Good For All News - CONSERVATION
BY ASHLEY SULLIVAN ON MAY 11, 2018
In equatorial Africa, chimpanzees once roamed freely in the millions and the sound of pant-hoots echoed through the forests. But as human populations grew, as did the demand for illegal bushmeat, and the fascination with keeping chimpanzees as illegal pets. As an endangered species, their numbers now are only close to 300,000. To work holistically to both prevent those threats and take in those injured and orphaned chimpanzees harmed by these illegal activities, JGI set up the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of Congo. As positive growth happens to end these threats, so still exists (though less so) those hurt most by it. This month, Tchimpounga took in a baby chimpanzee who was a victim of the illegal pet trade. His name is Kabi.
In the Republic of Congo, there are a number of protected areas guarded by forest guards who do routine patrols around sites to ensure no trespassing or poaching. While on patrol this past month, forest guards surprised a group of illegal hunters in Likouala, a border area in northern Congo. In a makeshift camp in the middle of the reserve, the guards found a horrific scene: the camp was full of dead animals, skins and… a baby chimpanzee. Though the hunters got away, all of their “prizes” were confiscated. As long as the demand internationally and locally continues to eat illegal bushmeat and obtain animal parts, these forest guards will have to constantly deal with the looming terrible work of these poachers. Kabi, the chimpanzee they found and named after the town near where he was rescued (Mokabi), was lucky to be alive and discovered by this group. Thanks to them, he was saved. Thanks to Tchimpounga, he was given a second chance.
Despite government efforts and interventions, poaching remains a significant issue in many areas of the Republic of Congo, and more broadly across the chimpanzee range in Africa. Chimps are killed or caught in traps to be sold off for the illegal bushmeat or pet trades. Stolen Apes, which was produced by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) through GRASP, estimates that a minimum of 22,218 great apes have been lost from the wild since 2005 – either sold, killed during the hunt, or dying in captivity – with chimpanzees comprising 64% of that number. To combat this, much of JGI Congo’s work is in education, prevention and working with local law enforcement, which has been a successful combination. But there is much more to be done. For though Kabi was lucky, many others are and will not be if we don’t do something now.Kabi was in decent health when he arrived, without any significant wounds and with a rather calm demeanour. Judging by the growth of his teeth, especially his canines, the Tchimpounga team estimates that Kabi is around two years old. After a professional vet check at Tchimpounga, they discovered he arrived with some intestinal parasites, and was quickly put on medication to remedy the issue. At Tchimpounga, all the chimps are given a unique and individualised evaluation of both their physical and emotional health, and a full strategy to deliver the best support for those needs.
Kabi is a strong young chimp, and will be given all the love and care he needs to thrive. A caregiver, named Cristel, acts as a surrogate mom to Kabi and spends 24 hours a day with him helping him to heal. As he moves through this initial period of care, he will soon be integrated with other chimps so that he may be given the social stimulation and community to live happily once more. Eventually, he may even have the chance to be transferred to one of the Tchimpounga sanctuary islands, where he may roam in forests once more with other chimps just like him!
GIVING KABI HOPE…
We want nothing more than to see Kabi thrive, but only you make that possible. Wounda, the now famous Tchimpounga chimp, came from a similar beginning – stolen from her family and forced into a life of fear and cruelty. But also like Kabi, Wounda was lucky enough to be rescued and recover. From suffering, she emerged in Tchimpounga as a spark of life, now alpha-female on a sanctuary island site exploring the forest with her baby, Hope.
Kabi’s life has been difficult, but as we see in Wounda’s story, Tchimpounga is a place for second chances. With your support as a Chimp Guardian, we can give Kabi the second chance of a happy, safe life he deserves.