Illicit Trafficking of Baby Chimpanzees
In 2020, the management of Maiko National Park set up a system to dismantle the network of traffickers of baby chimpanzees, particularly in Bafwasende Territory, in the central sector of Maiko National Park. With the help of eco-guards from Maiko National Park, 14 baby chimpanzees were confiscated in Opienge and transferred to the Lwiro Primates Rehabilitation Center in Bukavu. The criminals remain unidentified but the babies were confiscated from people known to authorities, although they deny being involved in poaching. A legal consultant from Maiko National Park is compiling a dossier on the confiscation and trafficking of these baby chimpanzees. Another two baby chimpanzees have recently been handed over to the park's eco-guards by a chief of Opienge, who recovered them from poachers. We value the involvement of this community leader who participated in our last meeting in Bafwasende. In this meeting, the management of Maiko National Park with support from Lubutu Territory, the provincial authority of Maniema Province and Bafwasende Territory, discussed the problem of trafficking in baby chimpanzees in Bafwasende and the need for people to voluntarily surrender their 12-gauge hunting weapons. On this same day, authorities in Lubutu Territory collected 265 of these 12-gauge weapons and handed them over to the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN). An SOS campaign has been launched to provide financial support for this process of tracking and confiscating baby chimpanzees, as well as recovering 12-gauge weapons.
Jean Claude Kyungu Kasolene