Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Kera, Addi and Solomon - primate rescues in Ethiopia

26 September 2016

Categories: Homepage News, Primates Campaign News, Ensessakotteh News, Rescue News

In the last month alone Born Free Foundation Ethiopia rescued three primates in Addis Ababa and housed them in Ensessakotteh, it's wildlife rescue, conservation and education centre. Addis Ababa, a city of over 3.3 million people, is the center of trade for the country and unfortunately that trade includes the illegal trade in wildlife as exotic pets.

The illegal trade in wildlife and its products is a worldwide issue, one that Ethiopia is actively trying to combat within its borders. Born Free and Ensessakotteh are partners with the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) and share a common goal to eradicate illegal wildlife trade in Ethiopia. In a country with a long tradition of rulers keeping lions, the transition from viewing animals as possessions to understanding and respecting their place in the environment is going to be a difficult one, but it has begun.

With the opening of the country’s first and only wildlife rescue centre, Ethiopia is now poised to make a significant change. Wildlife laws are useless unless you have officials that are able to enforce them, but you also need a place for those confiscated animals to go. The partnership that Born Free and EWCA have forged in the last eight years is one that has improved not only the welfare of the illegally held wildlife in the country, but is also changing perceptions of Ethiopian people towards wildlife.

The first two primates, two young geladas Kera and Addi were rescued by Bereket Girma (Centre Manager) and I in late August, when we spotted them on the road side. Being held on leashes with collars that were too tight, Kera had been held as a pet for over seven months, while Addi was being held temporarily by those trying to sell her. Both had skin rubbed raw and hairless by their collars, were dehydrated and terrified. They were both still quite young and with time, are excellent candidates for release back into the wild.

The third was an adult male vervet monkey, named Solomon by those who first called in the rescue. This rescue highlights many of the problems associated with wildlife as pets, but also the change in opinion that is happening here in Ethiopia. Solomon was a pet, his collar had been sewn closed around his neck and there was evidence of a rope leash, but it had been cut. Solomon, who had only known captivity was sent off on his own when he was too big and aggressive to be controlled. This is often the case with captive wild animals. They are cute when they are babies, but when they mature and become dangerous they are left to fend for themselves or worse.

The bright spot in the rescue of Solomon is that he was reported to Born Free directly. Someone saw that he was loose, knew that it wasn’t natural for him to be wearing a collar and called a trusted organization for help. It took a few days to catch Solomon, with at least one attempt thwarted by people scaring him off because they wanted him to stick around. During that time we explained to many people that it was better for him to be at the sanctuary with other individuals of his species rather than hanging around their neighbourhood or businesses.

That time spent with people, explaining Born Free's mission and the reasons behind Born Free's presence in Ethiopia, is where the biggest differences are being made. The message that all animals matter, that wildlife should be kept in the wild, is spreading here. If illegally held, or previously held, animals are being reported to us, it indicates a shift in public perception. It may just be the beginning of that shift, but it is happening, and that is a beautiful thing.

Tiffanie Meekins

Wildlife Care Officer, Ensessakotteh

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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