By Caroline Chebet, Giants Club African Conservation Fellow, The Standard.
Published 26 May 2018.
Two chimpanzees rescued from smugglers in Guinea Bissau have been taken to a rescue centre in Nanyuki. The apes, which were victims of the illegal wildlife trade in exotic animals in the west African nation, will join 36 other chimpanzees seeking refuge and rehabilitation at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
It took the intervention of several organisations, including the Project to End Great Apes Slavery, Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and the Kenya Wildlife Service for the animals to secure a home in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
“The chimpanzees, named Bo and Bella, were living in deplorable conditions in Guinea Bissau. However, the authorities failed to secure a safe place for them to stay and contacted the conservancy through the Kenya Wildlife Service,” said Samuel Mutisya, the head of wildlife at Ol Pejeta. The apes, he added, were brought into the country last month and were currently under a three-month quarantine in the rescue centre, which has the capacity to host 100 chimpanzees. Ol Pejeta is one of only two wildlife conservancies in Africa listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – an organisation that works towards conservation and sustainable use of resources.
The demand for bush meat means that mother chimpanzees are regularly poached for the cooking pot, leaving vulnerable babies that are smuggled abroad and sold as pets.
Mutisya said when endangered species such as chimpanzees are rescued from smugglers, they are not returned to their original habitat to protect them from poachers.
“Efforts are always made to ensure that these vulnerable animals get a place where they can be rehabilitated instead of letting them back to the forest.”
At the rescue centre, chimpanzees are released into an environment that is almost similar to their natural habitat but with enhanced security.
Joseph Maiyo, a supervisor at the sanctuary, said many rescued chimpanzees exhibited signs of trauma as well as lack of muscle development because of being confined to cages for extended periods.
“Chimps kept as pets are often psychologically or physically scarred from their experiences and it takes time to rehabilitate them.” email@example.com
- Read the original story here. This story is reproduced here as part of the Giants Club African Conservation Journalism Fellowships, a Space for Giants programme to expand the reach of conservation and environmental journalism in the four countries where we work.