Faces of PASA
Our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom are suffering? Don't turn your back on Africa's primates!
African wildlife law enforcement continues to combat illegal primate trade daily, but still Africa's primates are in danger. The population is rapidly disappearing. Habitat destruction for palm oil, mining, logging, oil development, human settlement and agriculture are consuming the remaining primate habitat at an alarming rate. Primates are commonly hunted for bushmeat or for the pet or commercial trades. Unless behaviors change, we could lose our closest relatives –chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas – as well as the rich diversity of African monkey species within a few generations.
PASA in ACTION
In recent months, PASA affiliates have gotten involved in a number of primate rescue missions across Africa.
For the past several years, Ponso, an adult male chimpanzee has been stranded – deserted on an almost uninhabitable mangrove island in Liberia – in an environment that could not provide fresh drinking water or any naturally occurring food. To make matters worse, Ponso, is one of the sixty-six captive chimpanzees remaining from what was the New York Blood Center’s biomedical research development in Liberia. Ponso watched his mate and offspring, along with 18 other chimpanzee companions and their children, die of starvation on the same island that he still sits upon. Finally, there is hope for Ponso’s rescue. Estelle Raballand, the director of the Chimpanzee Conservation Center in Guinea, recently visited the island to check up on the poor chimp. To her surprise, she was greeted with a gentle, but genuine hug from the Ponso himself. Despite years of having harsh experiments conducted on him, and being subjected to abuse and starvation by his human captors of the New York Blood Center, Ponso could still express compassion for Estelle, his human defender. The Chimpanzee Conservation Center as well as many other PASA members have offered Ponso sanctuary. The PASA network is doing everything possible to ensure that the proper permits are obtained to guarantee Ponso safe passage to his new home.
PASA member Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary received a very young chimpanzee they named Matilda early this year. They suspect she was orphaned because of bushmeat hunting or human-wildlife conflicts. Matilda is only around 3.5 month old. She had a bad cough and was breathing heavy upon arrival, but has been eating well. She is now being looked after by her surrogate mother and receiving all the care that she needs. "It is concerning that the bushmeat hunting seems to have started increasing again after the Ebola crisis. We have to keep reminding people of the dangers of eating primates!” says Tacugama conservationist.
In Guinea-Bissau, Bo a wild baby chimpanzee was illegally stolen from the forest last year. After Bo was confiscated by the local authorities, there was no appropriate facility in Guinea-Bissau to rehabilitate the little orphan. PASA recently discovered that she’s now living in a national park office and eating anything that is made available to her by the surrounding people. Poor nutrition and social development this early in Bo’s life can cause a lifetime of stress. Bo urgently needs to be moved to a proper sanctuary, especially before she grows bigger and is potentially unsafe around people.
PASA and Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Kenya are working with people in Guinea-Bissau to try to arrange an export permit. We hope that soon, Bo will be able to spend the rest of her days living in a huge forest habitat at Sweetwaters with dozens of other chimps like her.
Just this past week, an adolescent male chimpanzee, nicknamed “Kimia”, which means “peace” in the Lingala language spoken widely in Central Africa, who had been kept as a pet in a military camp in northern Democratic Republic of Congo was confiscated by Congolese wildlife officials and transported by United Nations peacekeepers to a rehabilitation center in South Kivu. The transfer was arranged by the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), led by Doug Cress, the founder of PASA. GRASP worked closely with the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) and U.N. peacekeeping forces (MONUSCO) to bring the chimpanzee to the Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Centre (CPRL), one of PASA's member organizations. Little “Kimia” was placed in quarantine before being allowed to join the other 64 chimpanzees in the spacious four-hectare forest enclosure at the center’s facility in Bukavu.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
PASA has begun planning for its annual Strategic Development Conference that is to take place in Africa later this year. The Strategic Development Conference in Nairobi, Kenya from November 4 to 7, 2015 marked the 16th annual meeting of the leaders of Africa’s primate sanctuaries. Thirty-five people participated in the conference, including leaders of 20 of the 22 PASA member organizations and five members of PASA’s Board of Directors. The Strategic Development Conference represented a new beginning for the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance. In contrast to past years, the sanctuary presence drastically exceeded that of Western specialists. The conference agenda incorporated discussions led by highly knowledgeable sanctuary directors that provided participants with practical knowledge readily applicable to the African context. Focusing sessions more on internal development provided the opportunity to learn about the needs of the member organizations and determine how PASA can address them, rebuild the members’ confidence in PASA, provide a forum for sharing ideas and knowledge, and provide training.
The desire for PASA to develop a mutually beneficial partnership with the EAGLE Network ensued after a guest presentation by Ofir Drory on the illegal wildlife trade and EAGLE’s work to enforce the laws against it. Post conference discussions between EAGLE Network and PASA affiliated organizations have increased the opportunities for collaboration. Special guests, Jim and Jenny Desmond, illustrated the situation facing the chimpanzees recently abandoned in Liberia by a New York Blood Center research facility. They described their plan to travel to Liberia to improve the living conditions of the chimpanzees and create a sanctuary for them. In addition, new PASA volunteer, Kourtney Stumpe gave a presentation on Open Data Kit (ODK), a versatile app which can be used for recording data or various forms of multimedia. Following the conference, Kourtney traveled to six of the PASA member organizations to assess the potential utility of the app, train the staff members on how to maneuver it, and set up a unique form base that would get them started. Exploring the diversity of fundraising channels available and particularly reaching individual donors through the internet and social media were identified as a major goals. The conference highlighted the vast intellectual resources of PASA, and opened doors for innovation. Overall a strong, supportive network was reestablished among PASA and its members and the atmosphere was positive and collaborative.
MEASURING OUR IMPACT
At the Strategic Development Conference PASA expressed an interest in conducting a census of the number of staff members and animals within PASA affiliated organizations. Submissions from each sanctuary came in during the following weeks. It was concluded that there are currently a total of 2,851 primates and 495 staff members within 22 PASA facilities. Among the diverse array of species in their care are gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, over fifteen species of monkey, as well as a few other primate species. The figure below represents the percent breakdown of each group in the total population of primates in member wildlife centers.
Preliminary results of the historical data collection project using the open source mobile application, Open Data Kit Collect, concluded that:
- 48% of the animals in PASA wildlife centers were confiscated from traffickers.
- 27% of the animals in PASA wildlife centers were rescued from inhumane situations.
- Animals have been rescued from as far away as Italy and the United Arab Emirates.
- Government authorities were only known to be involved in 34% of the rescues, (presumably) putting much of the burden of rescuing the animals on nonprofits.
- The rescued animals came from diverse situations including being used for entertainment, being used as pets, and being trafficked in the international wildlife trade.
PASA vows to be an invaluable resource for primate sanctuaries throughout Africa. Recognizing the intrinsic value that wildlife sanctuaries provide as a nexus of long term commitment to enforcement of wildlife laws, animal welfare and conservation of wild primates, we will advocate for our member sanctuaries on these and other relevant issues and provide a readily accessible international communication network for these members. PASA's programs will evolve with the threats that face African primates and the needs of our members; we will continuously seek creative solutions to provide our members with the best tools to promote long term success in the fight to protect and care for Africa's primates. We will accomplish this while maintaining PASA's Culture of Trust and Caring. We will follow PASA's Code of Values which includes transparency, collaboration, fairness, competence, humility and respect both internally with our member sanctuaries and in our relationships with supporters, governments, and non-governmental organizations. Every African primate sanctuary, regardless of size, will be able to obtain quality training and access to conservation services from a membership organization that puts its members' collective interests first and foremost.
Stay tuned for more updates and recent news from the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance. We’re very grateful to you for making this work possible through your generous support.
Ponso clings to Estelle in relief.
Matilda, a 3.5 month old by-product of bush meat
"Kimia", Lingala for "peace"
"Kimia" airlifted home.