JAN 31, 2017 12:51 PM PST

An investigation into infant chimpanzee trafficking


BBC has recently spent an entire year investigating the trafficking of wild baby chimpanzees in West Africa, particularly the Ivory Coast. The babies are taken from the wild after poachers kill their families (usually around 10 adult individuals) and are then sold for upwards of $12,500 in the Gulf and parts of Asia. The bodies from the murdered adult chimps may be sold as bush meat.

"One has to kill the mother, one has to kill the father," explained Colonel Assoumou Assoumou, an expert in wildlife crime with Ivory Coast Police. "If our ancestors had killed them, nowadays we wouldn't even know about chimpanzees."

Just as many pet owners become disenchanted with puppies when they grow up, chimps, once they lose their infantile cuteness, become hard to manage. Karl Ammann, a Swiss wildlife activist who campaigns against chimp trafficking, describes it as a "kind of slavery," saying that "They still have 90% of their life ahead of them. They get locked in some cage and maybe even killed in some cases because they have outlived their useful pet stage. That for me is just impossible to accept."

According to the UN Environment Program, an estimated 3,000 great apes, including orangutans, gorillas and chimpanzees, are lost from the wild every year as a result of illegal trade. There are only approximately 65,000 Western Chimpanzees in the wild left.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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