We received a release from the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance announcing that – finally – a chimp that has been spending it’s days tethered to a tree in Southern Sudan has been rescued and airlifted to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary near Mount Kenya. This is both a sad and happy story. While it is sad that a chimp should be treated with such cruelty, it is also uplifting that those who care were brave and persistent enough to rescue the poor primate despite the ‘long bureaucratic tug-of-war’ that lasted the better part of 10 months. Accolades are in order for the rescue team.
October 7, 2009
Sudan Chimpanzee Airlifted to Safety at Sweetwaters
A chimpanzee that spent its days tethered to a tree in Southern Sudan throughout a long bureaucratic tug-of-war was finally airlifted to safety this week and will reside permanently at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Kenya.
The male chimpanzee, nicknamed “Roy,” is believed to be less than three years old. He is thought to have been brought into Southern Sudan in 2008 from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and was subsequently presented to a government official as a gift.
The gift was later withdrawn, and Roy (pictured above) was cared for by local wildlife supporters in Southern Sudan until his transfer to Sweetwaters was approved – a process that took almost 10 months to confirm. Roy will join a community of 43 orphaned chimpanzees at Sweetwaters, which is a charter member of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA).
“It is a huge relief to finally see this transfer completed,” said Doug Cress, executive director of PASA. “It is a testament to the dogged determination of the Sweetwaters staff and our friends in Southern Sudan that Roy now has a permanent home. There were many delays and numerous obstacles in this operation, but neither side ever gave up.”
The process took so long that a Kenyan CITES import permit issued for Roy last February eventually expired and had to be re-submitted.
Roy was collected in Southern Sudan by Sweetwaters director Martin Mulama, and the chimpanzee will spend his quarantine period at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) facility in Nairobi before moving out to the 250-acre sanctuary near Mount Kenya.
Roy was cared for in Southern Sudan by Sue and Rusty Knight, who have rescued 14 orphaned chimpanzees at their Rumbek home since 2006. Twelve of those chimpanzees were earlier transferred to another PASA member sanctuary, JGI-Chimpanzee Eden in South Africa.
Although some experts believe chimpanzees might naturally occur in the forested regions of Southern Sudan, the high number of orphans brought through the region by illegal traders indicates the chimpanzees are probably captured in DR Congo and smuggled across the border into Sudan. Chimpanzees currently arrive at PASA sanctuaries at an average of 57 per year, indicating serious levels of bushmeat activity and poaching still exist.
Roy’s rescue was supported by Aircraft Leasing Service (ALS), the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), and the Wildlife Conservation Authority of Sudan, along with logistical help from wildlife supporters in Southern Sudan.
PASA was formed in 2000 to unite the sanctuaries that care for thousands of rescued chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, drills and other endangered primates across Africa. For more information, please visit the PASA website or contact email@example.com.