Kudia was one of the first Tchimpounga chimpanzees to be transferred to Tchindzoulou Island. She received this special honor because of her independent and courageous nature, as well as her excellent health.
Transfer day was September 20. This date will remain very important for everyone at the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) as it marked a great step forward for the Tchimpounga chimpanzees, a step that could not have happened without the hard work of the JGI team and all our partners.
Before this auspicious day, Kudia was separated from the other chimpanzees in her group and was housed with Vitika, a large female adolescent with fawny colored hair. Kudia didn't understand why she was separated from her friends Kauka, Manisa, Zimbana and all the others. She also didn’t understand why she was with Vitika, a chimpanzee she hadn’t seen for quite some time. For the next several days, the two chimpanzees stayed together in the dormitory while the JGI team observed their health and interactions while finishing last-minute tasks on the island.
When the momentous day arrived, it was necessary to anesthetize Kudia and Vitika in order to put them into the wooden transport boxes. When Kudia woke up, she found herself alone in her box with light coming through the bars of the sliding door. Vitika was fast asleep in another box in front of her.
JGI vehicles transported the boxes containing the two chimpanzees to the edge of the Kouilou River. A boat waiting on the riverbank brought the chimpanzees to Tchindzoulou. During the voyage, Kudia rested calmly in the straw in her box. When the boat’s motor suddenly stopped and the vessel landed on the island, Kudia saw Tchindzoulou’s dense vegetation for the first time.
Kudia’s box was quite heavy and required six men to carry it into the forest. Vitika’s box followed and was placed next to Kudia’s. When everything was ready, JGI-Congo Director Dr. Rebeca Atencia and senior caregivers Adolphe, Serge and Jean Maboto took action. Jean had the honor of opening the box holding Kudia. He pulled the sliding door up with force and Kudia rushed out into the lush forest without pausing. Adolphe then opened Vitika’s box, but she exited quietly with a little apprehension. Rebeca encouraged Vitika to follow Kudia, and Vitika disappeared into the lianas, a type of woody vine, just like in the ending of a fairy tale.
Kudia is enjoying the experience of relative liberty on Tchindzoulou with Vitika, as well as Louise, Tambikissa, Ouband, and Silaho, the other chimpanzees who have since been released. Moving ahead, her life will be very different. Kudia will make nests and sleep in the trees, run on the damp ground, eat wild fruits, play, and enjoy her time in the wonderful island forest. In the future, more chimpanzees will be transferred from Tchimpounga to the island and Kudia will be reunited with many of her friends.