CONTEXT:

The Koukoutamba dam would be located on the Bafing River, a tributary of the Senegal River, on a remote stretch of the Fouta Djallon highlands in Guinea, West Africa. The Koukoutamba Dam would be built within and have severe adverse impacts on the Moyen Bafing National Park, which was established in 2017 to protect an important stronghold for the critically endangered Western chimpanzee. The national park is home to the single largest population of the Western chimpanzee, a sub-species whose population has declined by 80% in the last 25 years. The Wild Chimpanzee Foundation estimates that the dam will result in the deaths of up to 1500 chimpanzees within the national park.

PROJECT IMPACTS:

The construction of Koukoutamba would entail significant and irreversible impacts to critically endangered species and critical natural habitats. The selection of a project site located within the Moyen Bafing National Park is indicative of the extent of the project’s impacts. At least 130 km² of the park would be submerged by the dam’s reservoir, much of which is chimpanzee habitat.

DIVERSE AND IRREVERSIBLE IMPACTS ON CHIMPANZEES

The government’s decision to establish the Moyen Bafing National Park in 2017 was praised for its commitment to protect the estimated 4000 chimpanzees within the park’s 6000 km² span, which the official announcement described as the subspecies’ “largest continuous population.” The establishment of the national park was believed to be the Western chimpanzee’s best hope of survival, after habitat loss, deforestation, and hunting resulted in an 80% decline in the species’ population over the past two decades. Only months after establishing the national park, the government of Guinea announced its intentions to proceed with plans to construct the Koukoutamba Dam within the park.

IMPACTS ON FRESHWATER SPECIES

The environmental impact assessment lacks detailed information on the presence and distribution of freshwater species, particularly downstream of the dam. The downstream impacts on freshwater species are likely to be severe given that the dam’s operating regime would see downstream flows ten times higher than usual during the dry season.

Biodiversity Snapshot

The dam impacts the largest remaining continuous population of Western chimpanzee, with an estimated 4000 present within the Moyen Bafing National Park.

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

Western Chimpanzee

Lebbiea grandiflora

(endemic, construction could

cause species extinction)

4 species of vultures

ENDANGERED

Fouta Djallon torrent frog 
(newly described)

VULNERABLE

Leopard 

Hippopotamus

Western Chimpanzee:

Under critical threat of extinction

Guinea hosts the largest population of the Western chimpanzee, one of four subspecies of chimpanzees, which is found only in West Africa. They make wooden spears for hunting, use caves as homes, and share food with each other. Humans share about 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees, making them our closest living relatives and closer relatives of humans than gorillas. Like humans, they demonstrate similar emotions. They are extremely intelligent, express empathy, reason, and mourn their dead.

The Moyen Bafing population is largely intact up to now because it is located in a remote area and accessible only via poor roads. Most critically, cultural and religious taboos among the predominantly Peulh local communities against their hunting and consumption means the population has largely thrived. However, the species as a whole is in serious decline. Their status was heightened from endangered to critically endangered, one step from extinction, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2016 following an 80% decline over the past 25 years.

AT-RISK SPECIES PROFILE

PROJECT IMPACTS

LESSONS

KOUKOUTAMBA

Guinea

Dam to be built in a national park that's one of the last strongholds of the critically endangered Western chimpanzee

Western Chimpanzee at risk of extinction

Image by Liran Samuni/Tai Chimpanzee Project; sourced from Mongabay

Bafing River

Image by Kalyanee Mam

Koukoutamba Village

Image by International Rivers

Biodiversity Snapshot

The dam impacts the largest remaining continuous population of Western chimpanzee, with an estimated 4000 present within the Moyen Bafing National Park.

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

Western Chimpanzee

Lebbiea grandiflora

(endemic, construction could

cause species extinction)

4 species of vultures

ENDANGERED

Fouta Djallon torrent frog 
(newly described)

VULNERABLE

Leopard 

Hippopotamus

1.

The dam’s location within a national park should have excluded the project from Sinohydro’s consideration.

2.

Irreversible impacts on critical natural habitats of critically endangered chimpanzees should have ruled the project out.

3.

The withdrawal of and critical comments by the World Bank should have been a red flag over the severity of concerns and impacts.

Company: Power China

Subsidiary: Sinohydro

Impact Category

Critical Habitat

Impact Category

Protected Area

Impact Category

Great Apes

CAPACITY

294 MW

Although the government has said the dam is necessary to address power shortages within Guinea, only a quarter of Koukoutamba’s power would be consumed within Guinea and the rest would be exported.

COST

$812 million​

STATUS

Pre Construction​

Local Community Impact​

8,700 people would be displaced and thousands more will have their livelihoods impacted.