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Saturday, February 13, 2021
INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF CONSERVATIONISTS WORK TO RESCUE TRAFFICKED MONKEYS
INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF CONSERVATIONISTS WORK TO RESCUE TRAFFICKED MONKEYS: CONFISCATION OF 20 YOUNG MONKEYS IS ONE OF THE LARGEST IN THE REGION
An international group of primatologists led by the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) — with support from San Diego Zoo Global, the Columbus Zoo and GaiaZOO — are providing a new home for 25 monkeys that were confiscated from wildlife traffickers. The monkeys all appear to be young and suffering from malnourishment and stress. They represent six different species native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This confiscation is one of the largest in recent years, and reflects the crisis in criminal trafficking that is hitting Africa’s native wildlife.
“This is the largest rescue in our 20-year history,” said Gregg Tully, executive director of PASA. “The monkeys were poached in DRC and then driven along a known route for traffickers. We’re grateful that authorities in Zimbabwe confiscated the animals. Otherwise, they would be sent to China or a tourist attraction, with no possibility of being reintroduced to the wild.”
PASA’s goal is to return the young primates to their native country, where they can be placed in an accredited sanctuary. The group has been collaborating with the leaders of Jeunes Animaux Confisques au Katanga (J.A.C.K.), a PASA-accredited sanctuary in Lubumbashi, DRC that has experience caring for and rehabilitating chimpanzees. The long-term goal is to re-wild these individuals, which include lesula monkeys, Allen’s swamp monkeys, gray-cheeked mangabeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, putty-nosed monkeys and golden-bellied mangabeys. The monkeys will be given appropriate medical care at J.A.C.K., and assessed for their readiness to return to native habitat. To accommodate such a large group at one time, the team determined that new facilities needed to be constructed.
“We’re creating state-of-the-art enclosures for these monkeys,” said Franck Chantereau, president and founder of J.A.C.K. “Thanks to the funding we received, we were able to move quickly; andwe’re excited about this progress, but we aren’t taking anything for granted. Too many lives are on the line.”
San Diego Zoo Global, the Columbus Zoo and GaiaZOO responded to the immediate need by providing funding for the enclosures and ongoing care of the group of youngsters.
“Our organization is very involved in the effort to stem the tide of wildlife trafficking,” said Dean Gibson, director of primates at San Diego Zoo Global. “We regularly provide refuge for wildlife that have been confiscated in the United States. Although it has been a difficult year for our organization due to COVID closures, when I alerted our leadership to the plight of these young monkeys, they thought it was important for us to contribute to their rescue.”
San Diego Zoo Global supports work with communities in Cameroon’s Ebo Forest, with efforts to both protect primates and their habitat.
“We have been working with local communities in Cameroon for years, to promote forest health and protect the gorilla and chimpanzee populations that call the Ebo Forest home,” said Megan Owen, Ph.D., corporate director of wildlife conservation science at San Diego Zoo Global.“Understanding that we need to restore species and protect ecosystems in order to have a healthy world is important to us.”
Peter Dickinson Independent International Zoo Consultant