The main conservation target is the endangered Eastern Chimpanzee. A rapid survey in 2007 found 21 chimpanzee nests in a miombo woodland patch along the Ngonya and Beswe streams showing that the chimpanzees still use the area. This patch of woodland is connected to woodland habitats that according to local people are used by chimpanzees as they travel to Burundi near the Mkamba hill.
The area was known in 1960s to have high diversity of wildlife including chimpanzees, baboons, red colobus monkeys, bushbuck, duikers, leopards, civets, genets, mongooses and many other mammals. Recent surveys in 2006 located a small group of about 30 red colobus monkeys in Kalinzi Forest reserve. There is a chance that some red tail monkeys are still present in the area. Olive baboons are still found but they numbers seem to be decreasing as well.
The area has been severely affected by the destruction of forest and woodland habitats outside the Gombe National Park driven by rapid population growth and immigration of refugees fleeing wars in Burundi and Congo.
Change detection analysis of 1972 Landsat MSS, 1991 and 2003 SPOT satellite imagery showed that in 1972 there were still large patches of forest and woodland similar to patches detected from 1947 and 1956 aerial photos. By 1991, 29% of those forest and woodland cover had been lost and by 2003 additional 50% of forests and woodlands had been converted to farmland, timber and charcoal production.
Poaching was probably a major factor in the decline of chimpanzees and other mammals in the area. Although chimpanzees may be caught during poaching for meat of other species, deliberate killing outside the park may occur because of crop raiding or as a preemptive measure.
Pusey, A., L. Pintea., M. Wilson., S. Kamenya., & J. Goodall. 2007. The Contribution of Long-Term Research at Gombe National Park to Chimpanzee Conservation. Conservation Biology 21 (3), 623–634.
Pintea, L. 2007. Applying satellite imagery and GIS for chimpanzee habitat change detection and conservation. Ph.D. thesis. University of Minnesota, St. Paul.