Masks for researchers in Guinea Bissau

A project by: Kimberley Hockings


WE RAISED £3,451

from 116 donors

This project received donations on Sun 17 May 2020
Help us prevent the spread of COVID-19 amongst humans and chimpanzees in West Africa


We’re so grateful for all the support we’ve received so far. We raised £2,819 as of 11th May, our original deadline. We decided to keep the campaign open until the end of this week,  to try and reach our target of £5,000 so we have as much funding as possible for PPE, to keep these Chimpanzees safe and well.

Professor Brendan Godley, Professor of Conservation Science at Exeter, has very generously offered to help us to reach out to more people to spread the word about this important project, as part of his Birthday celebrations. Thanks and Happy Birthday Brendan!


Our ongoing research programme in Guinea Bissau has been crucial in helping to protect the populations of endangered chimpanzees whilst also supporting the livelihoods of local communities who share the Cantanhez National Park as their home.

The global spread of COVID-19 is now putting these communities at risk. The virus has reached Guinea Bissau and it’s only a matter of time before the inhabitants of Cantanhez are affected.

While travel for research is currently impossible, there are local people working on this project who are now at risk. 

In addition, the chimpanzees that our research aims to protect are also threatened by coronavirus. Chimpanzees share nearly 99% of their DNA with humans and past experience with other human respiratory illness indicates that they generally experience even worse symptoms. If COVID-19 is transmitted into the wild apes living amongst humans in Guinea Bissau, it is likely to have a devastating impact on this already endangered species.

We have developed a protocol for our park guards which covers social distancing, hand washing and washing of clothing after every visit to the site and instructions for the use of fabric masks. Disposable surgical masks are in short supply and the priority is to keep healthcare facilities well stocked, but we have a reusable solution. We have also introduced 'tip-taps' which ensure people can wash their hands without regular access to running water. 

We need your help to provide our workers and volunteers with these supplies. We need to set-up additional 'tip taps' and provide enough masks and soap to ensure they can follow the protocols in the coming months.

A 'tip tap' hand washing station and masks already in use at another research area in East Africa.

Where will the money go?

We are raising money to provide our support staff on the ground supplies of soap, bleach and re-usable fabric face masks. 

While masks provide limited protection for a healthy person wearing them, they are excellent at helping to prevent spread from a sick person to others. These cheap cloth masks are almost as effective as surgical masks when used correctly, and combined with social distancing measures can be a really effective way to protect both people and chimps. 

'Tip taps' are simple structures that allow people to wash their hands by pressing a lever with their foot and avoid touching anything with potentially dirty hands. We need to install additional facilities to ensure people on the ground can follow protocols to protect themselves and the chimpanzees.


Hear more about Kimberley's research in Cantanhez and why it's so important to continue this work.

Help us succeed!

Please donate if you can. Every £1 can really make a difference to this project.

And please share this page with your friends and family. The more we can spread the word, the more chances we have to protect this endangered species.

Thank you!

The University of Exeter is an exempt charity - number X9538