As staff at the Tchimpounga sanctuary know too well, the true cost of wildlife crime is horrific. It is common to find chimpanzees suffering from infected wounds, parasites, malnutrition and dehydration, not to mention the psychological scars from being taken from their mother at such a young age. Before a chimpanzee can begin to enjoy his or her new life at Tchimpounga, JGI’s veterinary staff often has to act quickly just to keep the chimp alive.
Mambou was no exception.
When he arrived at Tchimpounga, Mambou was sick and emaciated. The staff were afraid that the orphaned chimp was too weak to survive, and immediately began treatment to save his life. The team worked all day and into the night, giving Mambou love and comfort. Between the vet staff and Tchimpounga’s extraordinary caregivers, Mambou was able to gain his strength back little by little. Eventually Mambou made a complete recovery and was able to join the other rescued chimpanzees.
Today, Mambou is unrecognizable from the skeletal, sickly chimp we first met. He has grown into a healthy and charismatic young chimpanzee, larger than many of his peers and extremely confident and well-liked.
Mambou was recently transferred to Tchindzoulou, a forested island within Tchimpounga. There he will begin the next chapter of his life, in which the trauma of his early days is forgotten as he swings through the trees with a group of chimpanzees like him.
Mambou was lucky. The sad reality is that every year an estimated 3,000 great apes are taken from the wild for the illegal pet and entertainment trade. Most arrivals to Tchimpounga are traumatized by what they have experienced, including being hunted down by dogs and witnessing the violent death of their mothers.
Mambou still has a slim physique. But because of his strong and intelligent personality, JGI’s team is confident that in a few years Mambou will become the dominant alpha male of his group.
Mambou continues to adapt to life on Tchindzoulou Island. The last few weeks have been very hot in Congo. At noon it is really suffocating. Mambou has taken the habit of approaching the shore to cool off. At first he only put his hands in the water, but little by little he discovered where the water level did not cover him, so now he gets to get in until the water reaches his belly. The caretakers watch him from the boat and laugh a lot. Mambou washes his feet with his hands, also his armpits and his head. Sometimes he takes a bunch of grass and uses it as if it were a sponge. Then, he climbs a tree where the breeze dries his wet body and stays very relaxed looking at the river.
Help chimps like Mambou!
If you're not sure how much to give, here are some tips:
$35 buys 100 lbs of bananas
$65 feeds 12 chimps for one day
$100 outfits 2 rangers with raingear and boots to help protect chimps from poachers
$130 buys support for community conservation where wild chimps live