National Geographic

VOICES Voices Icon Ideas and Insight From Explorers


Aaron Sandel

of NG Young Explorers

I am a PhD student in Anthropology at the University of Michigan. I
write from Ngogo, in the center of Kibale National Park in Uganda,
home to 200 chimpanzees, the subjects of my dissertation. A National
Geographic Young Explorers grant in 2013 got me through the angst of
finalizing a dissertation project. Now, I study angst, or at least the
closest thing to it: friendship and the transition to adulthood in
male chimpanzees. When I’m not focused on following a chimpanzee, my
forest daydreams include opening a vegan burrito restaurant in a rural
Ugandan village and making a documentary about an old fig tree.

“Teen” Chimps Searching for Themselves

Aaron Sandel is confronting the angst of entering adulthood, one day of data collection at a time—alongside his “colleague,” Benny. Who is Benny, you ask?

Charging Chimps, Chasing Poachers, & Other Drama

On the heals of a poacher, chasing chimps doesn’t seem so hard.

Skeletons in the Forest: Life, Death, and the Dynamics of a National Park

The forces of the forest make searching for chimpanzees, alive or dead, a challenge.

How Big are Camera Shy Chimps? Measuring Body Size in the Forest

Even with high-tech methods, measuring body size in wild chimpanzees is difficult.

Searching for Chimps & Other Misadventures in an Ugandan Forest

Bee stings to the face, deadly serpents, and raging arson fires…no day is the same for a chimp researcher in Uganda.