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The Gorilla Project Podcast

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Episode #1 – Sara M. Southern – ‘Lethal coalitionary attacks of chimpanzees on gorillas in the wild


Is climate change increasing food competition between gorillas and chimpanzees?
On February 6 and December 11, 2019, researchers in Gabon’s Loango National Park witnessed, for the first time, a coalitionary killing of gorillas by chimpanzees. This behavior is unprecedented in the history of primatology, forcing scientists to study what is causing it. Lara Southern (Osnabrück University in Germany) witnessed both events. Lara’s paper titled “Lethal coalitionary attacks of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) on gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in the wild” explores these incidents based on the two most common explanations for chimp attacks: predation for food and coalitionary killings to eliminate rivals. Do the attacks on the gorillas fit into one or both scientific frameworks? Or, can we solve this mystery by studying phenological data related to climate change? Listen until the end because the answer will surprise you!

Episode #2: Congo to Auction Land to Oil Companies: ‘Our Priority Is Not to Save the Planet’

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On July 24, 2022, Ruth Maclean and Dionne Searcey released an article in the New York Times that attracted a great deal of attention titled “Congo to Auction Land to Oil Companies: ‘Our Priority Is Not to Save the Planet’”. The article’s subtitle read: ‘Peatlands and rainforests in the Congo Basin protect the planet by storing carbon. Now, in a giant leap backward for the climate, they’re being auctioned off for drilling.’ According to Searcey and MacLean’s article, the government of the D.R.C. had planned to auction off vast amounts of land in and around the Congo River Basin to capitalize on the demand for fossil fuels. Many of you remember the film “Virunga,” which showed the trouble the rangers in the DRC’s Virunga National Park had fending off the oil companies who wanted to drill there. The New York Times article stated that the DRC government would auction oil and gas blocks affecting Virunga and the tropical peatlands. The forests and peatlands of the Congo River Basin store vast amounts of carbon. According to scientists, if they mine it for oil, they will release the carbon into the air and displace or kill the gorillas who live there. Greenpeace Africa describes the peatlands as “a biodiversity hotspot containing about 30 gigatons of carbon.”

Episode #3: “A Tale of Two Villages”

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The Gorilla’s Project’s primary aim is to create a feature film highlighting issues surrounding the preservation of gorillas.  We’re converting ideas from research papers and newspaper articles into a storytelling format. Instead of making a nature documentary, we intend to write a narrative film with interesting characters who get themselves into exciting adventures.  Making podcasts is a low-cost way to see which stories are compelling enough to include in the film. This week’s episode has a full cast of characters and a story that spans two continents and two centuries.  During our research, we discovered a New York Times article by Ruth Maclean and Dionne Searcey titled “Congo to Auction Land to Oil Companies: ‘Our Priority Is Not to Save the Planet’”.  This article led us down the rabbit hole where we found another New York Times article by Ruth Maclean titled: “What Do The Protectors of Congo’s Peatlands Get In Return?” These articles are the primary inspiration for this podcast.   We also drew ideas from other articles and research papers we noted in this episode’s blog post on The Gorilla Project website.