Human Interest

Lwiro, an oasis for chimpanzees in DR Congo

Lwiro, DR Congo, May 29 (EFE).- When Banalia, a one-year-old chimpanzee, first arrived at the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Lwiro primate rehabilitation center she suffered severe malnutrition, injuries and trauma.

Congolese authorities found the chimpanzee inside a tiny cardboard box, shivering, malnourished, awaiting the poachers who had taken her from her parents after killing them for meat.

The Lwiro center, located in the east of the African country, gave Banalia and another 112 primates rescued from poachers a second chance.

Although Banalia is recovering, her story is not an exception, Mireille Midero, one of the caretakers who look after the youngest primates at the center, tells Efe.

Last year alone, the center rescued a record of 15 chimpanzees.

“Chimpanzees are hunted a lot,” Claude-Sylvestre Libaku, one of Lwiro’s veteran workers tells Efe.

“Since the beginning of 2022 we have received five chimpanzees. This shows that these animals are being attacked in their natural habitats”.

Poaching is used for meat intake or to earn extra income in a country where over 70% of the people are living in poverty, according to the World Bank.

Adult chimpanzees are usually killed for the meat while the younger ones are smuggled alive to zoos in Asia or the West.

These practices, alongside the disappearance of the forests, are pushing these primates towards extinction.

With the current trend, the 1970s population will be reduced by over a half by 2050, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned.

Chimpanzees are intelligent animals and young ones are highly dependent on their parents.

“Many of these animals lack affection because their parents have been killed. That’s why we try to be their friends,” Midero says.

“We also feed them, we teach them to walk if they don’t know how to yet, to grab objects… Then the chimpanzees begin to mature and develop their sense of survival”, Midero adds. EFE


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