This project is focused on providing the initial care for chimpanzee and other primate infants confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade in northeastern DR Congo. Because of the current Ebola epidemic, our site in Epulu serves as the quarantine space for confiscated chimps and other primates before they are transferred to Lwiro Primate Sanctuary in Bukavu, DR Congo. As such, we are providing the medicine, food, surrogate care and additional needs for each chimpanzee infant.
Chimpanzee infants are being confiscated from poachers by ICCN rangers. The confiscation of a single chimpanzee infant means the loss of their mother and most likely the rest of the family members as chimpanzees will try and defend themselves against poachers. As more and more people travel to, and work in, illegal gold mines, they rely on bushmeat to feed themselves. Once they manage to kill the adults, it is common to sell the young animals to the black market as pets for additional income.
Once confiscated, the chimpanzee infants are provided initial care and quarantined for Ebola by our staff in Epulu. Once cleared and transport is arranged, they are taken to Lwiro Primate Sanctuary for long-term care. Bushmeat poaching is closely associated with illegal gold mines and we are working with ICCN rangers to assist with closing the mines and removing miners and arresting poachers in the Reserve.
Wildlife trade is a serious issue and if not controlled, will have serious effects on wildlife populations. The rescue of these chimpanzee infants allow them to live a life with other chimpanzees, while we work with ICCN rangers to close illegal gold mines. If the forest is intact and the wildlife is protected a significant ecosystem is sustained and intact for our future. The value of tropical forests and wildlife is continually being re-evaluated in the face of new challenges.