Ekwoge Abwe, Ph.D.

Co-Leader of the African Forest Conservation Hub

Dr. Ekwoge Abwe is a co-leader of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s African Forest Conservation Hub and has began leading the organizations program in Cameroon’s Ebo Forest since 2003. He developed a passion for great ape ecology and conservation, and was the first to witness chimpanzees using stone and wooden hammers to crack open tree nuts in Cameroon—a new behavioral discovery for the endangered Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee. 

Ekwoge's work with both chimpanzees and gorillas in Ebo has been ground-breaking and vital for their conservation. His research on great ape habitat requirements, social structure, and behavior has been invaluable in developing effective conservation strategies. Forest elephant conservation has also been a priority of Ekwoge’s, and he and his team pioneered the use of video trail cameras for monitoring of Ebo’s elusive forest elephants. 

Ekwoge has played a crucial role in forging alliances between more than 40 traditional chiefs of two different tribes in the Ebo landscape. He also established the community-led conservation groups Clubs des Amis des Gorilles (Gorilla Guardian Club) and Clubs des Amis des Chimpanzés (Chimpanzee Guardian Club). Ekwoge has been honored with the prestigious Whitley Award for his grassroots efforts to engage local communities in gorilla conservation in the Ebo forest

Ekwoge earned his bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Yaoundé 1 in Cameroon. He earned his master’s degree in primate conservation at Oxford Brookes University (UK) and received his doctorate at Drexel University (USA), with research focused on how genetic and ecological variation are linked with the behavioral ecology of the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee.

Photo courtesy of Tusk