Since the 2008 pilot release of six Tchimpounga mandrills, the JGI team has been working hard to integrate eight more individuals to form another group to release into the wild. Madrills are rare primates found in only four African countries. Reintroducing any wild animal into the forest is a serious undertaking, but the process is somewhat easier with mandrills than with chimpanzees. The current plan is to reintroduce the next mandrill group in September.
Work is underway on the first of the three islands that will become the new long-term sanctuary site for the Tchimpounga chimpanzees.
This week, JeJe began wanting to eat solid foods. His stomach is ready for fruits and vegetables, so every day the caregivers at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga sanctuary offer him a broad selection of treats. They give him small bites little by little to see what he likes.
Each morning, Wounda receives a liter of milk. This is just one of several treatments she receives due to a recent illness. Young Lemba watches in anticipation until the caregivers produce a bottle for her. For Lemba, milk is a special treat, so the mornings are her favorite part of the day.
In late May, authorities confiscated an 18-month-old male named “Zola” in Imphondo, which is a town found in the north of Congo. Imphondo is located along the Ubangui River, which flows into the Congo.
Little Anzac, a recent arrival at Tchimpounga, is one of the many victims of the illegal commercial bushmeat trade. Congolese authorities confiscated her from a poacher before turning her over to the caregivers at the Jane Goodall Institute’s sanctuary.
In the mornings, Anzac loves to make grass angels, similar to the snow angels many human children make during the winter months. She lies on her back, flapping her arms about and enjoying the feel of the dew-covered ground.
Over the past six months, Tchimpounga has received six more orphaned infants. As a result, each caregiver is taking care of three or more chimpanzees, which is overwhelming to say the least.
Lemba, a young chimpanzee whose legs are paralyzed from polio, acts as the adoptive mother. Unlike the caregivers who have 24-hour responsibilities, Lemba’s duties only require that she play with the babies and keep an eye on them during the day.
As our 4WD trudges along the last stretch of road into the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Centre, one hour north of Pointe Noire in the Republic of Congo (Congo), it is the sound of hooting chimpanzees that first announces our arrival. The centre is situated on a hilltop, overlooking a patchwork of forest and swampy plains, just a few kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean. As with most visitors to the sanctuary, it took me a couple of weeks to begin to understand the complexity and dedication required to care for and rehabilitate chimpanzees.