U.N. Peacekeepers Airlift Chimpanzees from Supermarket to Sanctuary
Two chimpanzees that spent the past year living behind a supermarket in Kinshasa were airlifted by United Nations peacekeepers on 24 August to a permanent sanctuary in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, in a joint effort between the Congolese wildlife authority (ICCN), Gorilla Doctors, the Lwiro Centre for Primate Rehabilitation (CRPL), and the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP).
The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO) in DR Congo flew the chimpanzees directly from Kinshasa to Bukavu in an Antonov An-26 cargo airplane that was returning from an aid mission. The U.N. support turned a 1,000-mile journey over extremely difficult roads into a smooth three-hour flight.
The chimpanzees – a five-year old male nicknamed “Kin” and a three-year old female nicknamed “Shasa” – were confiscated following the intervention of DR Congo’s Minister of Environment. They will join the 55 resident chimpanzees at the Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Centre and be integrated into natural social groups.
GREAT APE SURVIVAL PARTNERSHIP (GRASP) is a unique alliance of 98 national governments, United Nations agencies, conservation organizations, zoos, and private supporters working to conserve great apes and their habitat in Africa and Asia.
INSTITUT CONGOLAIS POUR LA CONSERVATION DE LA NATURE (ICCN) is DR Congo’s wildlife authority. ICCN has a legal mandate to enforce the conservation laws that are designed to protect DR Congo’s flora and fauna.
LWIRO PRIMATE REHABILITATION CENTRE (CRPL) was established by the ICCN and the Centre de Recherché en Sciences Naturelles (CRSN) in 2002 to provide long-term care to animals confiscated from poachers and illegal traders. The CRPL houses 55 chimpanzees and 75 monkeys, representing more than 10 different species.
GORILLA DOCTORS — which was formerly known as the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project – works in East Africa to monitor the health status of both Mountain gorillas and Grauer’s gorillas and guard against disease outbreaks and transmission. The organization was the brainchild of gorilla expert Dian Fossey, and was founded a few weeks after her murder in 1985.