Chimpanzees and DRC

The International  Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified chimpanzees as endangered. Only between 172,000- 300,000 individuals were thought to be left in the wild in 2003. Today, this number is  still sadly decreasing as chimpanzees – and Great Apes in general – face different threats such as:

*habitat destruction:  humans are encroaching on the chimpanzees’ natural habitats (continual rise of human population means an increasing demand for land for living  and for agricultuer) thus  slashing and burning the forests chimpanzees live. Besides, logging (to expand agriculture and for economic gain), mining and oïl extraction represent serious threats too to Great Apes;

*poaching : chimpanzees are hunted for their meat (bushmeat trade) while alive youngsters are sold to meet the demand of the exotic animal pet trade.  Although it is illegal, it unfortunately still occurs. The capture of an ape infant guarantees the death of the mother and other members of the troop who are protecting the baby. This leads to a decrease in chimpanzee numbers in the wild. In addition to this, Great Apes are also killed for medicinal reasons, they are hunted by villagers who protect their crops, and they can be killed unintentionally by getting caught in snares meant for other animals that people in Africa are trying to catch to provide a meal for their family;

*disease: humans and chimpanzees are so similar that diseases are easily transmissible between them. This is called ‘zoonotic disease’; Ebola haemorrhagic fever is one of these zoonotic diseases which each know to have killed both humans and apes.

Today, it is said 40% of the wild chimpanzee population still live in the DRC.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo ratified CITES agreements protecting GREAT APES in 1976, which means that DRC laws on wildlife do exist. However, many of these laws are totally ignored. Therefore, 10 years ago, nothing was done to protect apes throughout Katanga and this is one of the reasons J.A.C.K. started!



J.A.C.K. a primate sanctuary 

For years, Franck and Roxane Chantereau have seen ape babies bought as pets by expatriate families and witnessed these poor little ones being sold for small change on the streets of Lubumbashi.

From 1995 to 2006, Franck recorded alarming facts of ape infants arriving in Lubumbashi to cover the local “pet” demand or heading for Zambia and South Africa for the international ape trade.

In 1995, Franck asked worldwide wildlife conservation institutions to take stand. But the anwser was “DRC is a dangerous country: due to political unrest, no action can be taken“. It was more than obvious nobody wanted to help nor be involved!!!

Franck’s informal report emphasized 2 main appalling facts:

    • Per month and during that period of time, about 3 babies were passing through Lubumbashi . But the original genocide is known to take place before that, in the forest, where an estimated 10 individuals are slaughtered for every baby taken, which mean (if we consider 3 babies arriving in Lubumbashi/month) an average of 30 chimpanzees  were killed per month and over 400 were lost from the wild every year… Over the ten year period since Franck’s records began,  the traffic through Lubumbashi alone accounted for in excess of 4000 chimpanzees lost…

    • Poachers do capture young infants on demand. People “ordering” young chimpanzees are expatriates, but also members of the Congolese Army and other “high ranking” Congolese who use their uniforms or their power to detain, smuggle and sell little chimpanzees.

For these appaling facts and because of so much ignorance and lack of interest, Franck and his wife, Roxane, decided to do something for these lost creatures. Franck wanted to stop that illegal trade but had therefore to help authorities enforce the laws regarding wildlife & endangered species and had to built a refuge center: without providing a safe shelter for the seized apes, the authorities wouldn’t have been able to legally confiscate them!

This is how J.A.C.K. sanctuary started in 2006 with the first chimpanzee ever legally confiscated by DRC Environment officials. The name of this first rescue was “JAK”!


Read more about this :

– illegal traffic, the reason why J.A.C.K. started : http://jack.wildlifedirect.org/2008/01/06/illegal-chimpanzee-traffic-through-katanga/

– J.A.C.K. , a refuge center for seized chimpanzees : http://jack.wildlifedirect.org/2008/01/13/jack-a-refuge-centre-for-seized-chimpanzee-babies/

– J.A.C.K. against wild (dead) animal trade : http://jack.wildlifedirect.org/2010/03/17/j-a-c-k-against-wild-dead-animal-trade/