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  2. Why are there African sanctuaries for bonobos and chimpanzees?

chimps at sanctuariesThe Wild Infant Problem
Wild bonobos and chimpanzees are critically threatened. While Africa struggles to develop economically, the remaining unprotected bonobo and chimpanzee habitats are being destroyed and the apes living within are killed.

The only surviving bonobos and chimpanzees from such populations are infants who are taken off dead mothers to be sold as “pets” within Africa or on the international black market. The trade of these infants then fuels the demise of other wild ape populations as some try to profit by obtaining and selling more infants.

Most infants die within days of capture, but those that survive face a difficult life. “Cute” babies of both species are wild animals and can never be tamed – inevitably leading to extreme psychological and physical abuse when owners can no longer manage them (i.e. apes quickly learn to bite people).


The Sanctuary Solution
Goverments in Africa have created laws banning the capture and sale of bonobos and chimpanzees. Sanctuaries were created to offer lifelong care to those individual bonobos and chimpanzees that were confiscated as a result of such laws. (PASA - The Pan African Sanctuaries Alliance: http://www.panafricanprimates.org/)

Without sanctuaries laws protecting wild apes from capture 1) could not be enforced and thus would do little to stop the trade of live infants or 2) would require euthenizing confiscated apes.

Today there are 17 sanctuaries in 12 countries. Together they provide lifelong care for over 1,000 wild born apes and economic benefit to many Africans. The majority of these sanctuary apes are infants and juveniles.

  Tchimpounga chimpanzee sanctuary (Pointe Noire, Congo)
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology