19 July 2017
Often we talk about projects or key issues in terms of their impact on conservation, animal welfare or trade and policy but this recent report from our partners in Cameroon shows how intertwined all these topics are.
Back in June, two wildlife traffickers were arrested at the entrance to the cargo area at Douala International Airport. They were attempting to smuggle two female chimpanzees that were crammed in two small cages, out of the country. This was not an opportunistic act by people with no experience or contacts. LAGA reports that “one of the traffickers had been in the business of primate trafficking for a long time. He had been trying to buy a male chimp to mate with the two females, which he had been keeping for many years in tiny cages, waiting for the right moment to sell. The chimps were not even able to stand up.”
Luckily for these individuals, LAGA, in partnership with the local authorities were able to intercept them before they left the country. In a joint operation with Pandrillus they were able to transfer them to the expert care of the Limbe Wildlife Centre (LWC) in the Southwest Region of Cameroon. LWC –which Born Free supports - is already home to many confiscated and rescued chimpanzees, including Chinoise, and will offer these two females lifetime care.
It has been estimated that for every infant chimpanzee that enters the wildlife trade, nine adults have died during its capture. The rate at which chimpanzees are being hunted indicates a significant conservation challenge. Born Free’s Associate Director (Africa), Dr Liz Greengrass, explains the wildlife trade is not the only threat facing chimpanzees in Cameroon. “Chimpanzees are threatened by hunting for the bushmeat trade and fetish markets. In addition, industrial scale agriculture, the extractive industries, and the development of small-holder cash crop farming, is driving the loss of their forest habitat”.
All of this highlights the need for multifaceted work, increasing protection of wild populations through research and monitoring and law enforcement, and supporting wildlife sanctuaries to provide life-time care. With this in mind Born Free is working to ensure the future of chimpanzees and gorillas across Equatorial Africa.