Gorilla Doctors Perform Health Checks on Confiscated Primates in DR CongoBy Gorilla Doctors Staff on Thursday, March 7th, 2019 in Blog.
As part of a multi-stakeholder Conservation Action Plan (CAP) funded by the Arcus Foundation and led by the Jane Goodall Institute, Gorilla Doctors contributes to the health monitoring of great apes in protected areas and sanctuaries across all areas where the CAP has been implemented. This can sometimes encompass caring for primates confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade.
Rescue #1: Two infant chimpanzees – January
In January, DR Congo wildlife authorities (ICCN) discovered two infant chimpanzees, being held illegally, in the city of Kisangani. ICCN veterinarian, Dr. Kizito, traveled to Kisangani and successfully confiscated the two infant chimpanzees (Dr. Kizito is also a recipient of a Gorilla Doctors & Houston Zoo scholarship supporting his Master’s degree training in Wildlife Health & Management from Makerere University, Uganda).
Upon confiscation, Dr. Kizito traveled directly to the Gorilla Doctors compound in Goma, arriving on January 24, for our veterinarians to provide initial treatment to both animals before their transfer to a local sanctuary. In Eastern DR Congo, these facilities include:
- Senkwekwe for orphaned mountain gorillas – Virunga National Park
- GRACE – Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center – Tayna Nature Reserve
- CRPL – Center for Rehabilitation of Primates Lwiro – Bukavu
At the Gorilla Doctors compound the chimpanzees were fed bananas and avocados and rehydrated with an oral saline solution. Gorilla Doctors Eddy Kambale Syaluha and Martin Kabuyaya performed basic health checks and cleaned their transport cage, and pronounced both chimpanzees healthy and stable enough to make the trip to Lwiro. At Lwiro, the chimpanzees, cared for by the wonderful team of veterinarians under the mentorship of Gorilla Doctor Luis Flores, were named Kisan (a nickname of the city where they were found) and Tumaini, which means hope in Swahili (side note: there is also an orphaned Grauer’s gorilla named Tumaini living at GRACE).
Chimpanzees are highly intelligent and social with a long development period, so when infants are removed from their mothers and natural habitat, the impact is traumatic. Thanks to the response and leadership of the DR Congo wildlife authorities and care from Dr. Kizito and Gorilla Doctors, after a short time in quarantine, these two young apes will be integrated with other chimpanzees at the sanctuary, and will be able to grow in a semi-natural environment.
Rescue #2: Vervet monkey – February
On February 2nd, the Chief Warden of ICCN notified Gorilla Doctors of a wild vervet monkey being kept illegally as a pet at a military compound near Goma. The following day, ICCN officials, joined by Gorilla Doctors Eddy and Martin, located the monkey at a home in the compound. The monkey was chained to a mango tree and showed no fear of humans, suggesting it had been in captivity for some time. The ICCN officials successfully confiscated the monkey and our Gorilla Doctors brought it to our compound in Goma for treatment.
The monkey had been tied to the tree with a dog collar and chain, which caused a large wound around its hip. In addition to providing wound treatment and an overall health check, Gorilla Doctors fed the monkey bananas and avocado and gave it rehydration fluids. We added soft bedding to its transport cage, and then transferred the monkey to the Lwiro sanctuary for additional care and a new home.