HELLO AGAIN !
It’s been a while since my last blog as sadly, due to Covid, I have’t been able to spend time in the field over the past year. Needless to say I am itching to get out there again and hopefully I will be able to make at least one or two trips before the end of this year and will be able to start posting live again.
In the meantime, I thought I would update you on some of the key developments with new and existing projects we support – there’s been a lot going on!
I’ll keep the blogs coming over the coming months and hopefully by the time I’m am off on my travels again, I will have bought you up to speed.
Sorry to kick off with a rather sad story but I am devastated to say that Coco, the wonderful resident chimp at the Chimpanzee Conservation Centre (CCC) in Guinea, recently passed away. I met Coco on my first visit to CCC in 2017 and he, and his story, stole my heart.
From around the age of three, Coco worked in the reception area of a hotel in Guinea. I say worked as his owners taught him to entertain guests by smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. He did this for many years until it became too dangerous for the public and he was then transferred to the garden and tied to a tree so he could continue to entertain guests.
One day Coco managed to escape and made a dash for freedom. The authorities were called and he was captured by being shot, a number of times. Fortunately the wounds were not fatal and due to the dedicated and professional care provided by CCC staff who agreed to adopt him, Coco made a full physical recovery. However, the mental damages were irreversible and it was clear from the outset that he would never be able to be fully rehabilitated and returned to the wild, which is what CCC is all about. Instead he was provided with the next best thing, lifetime care at CCC’s facility within the Haut Niger National park.
After years of trying to integrate him into existing chimp groups at the rehab centre, he was finally confined to a cage, on his own, as he simply couldn’t cohabit with the others. Being robbed of communication skills in his earlier life caused aggressive behaviour all round, making integration dangerous and therefore impossible.
When I met Coco and heard his story we formed a very special friendship. I promised him OAT would do all possible to further improve the quality of his life and a few years later this dream became a reality. We sponsored the construction of a very large enclosure with an abundance of space and natural habitat and once again Coco was able to run free, climb trees, nest, and do a lot of what chimps naturally do in the wild. Here is a little video of the day when Coco was released into his OAT enclosure.
I am heart broken, as are the entire OAT and CCC team, but we are taking comfort from the fact that he died in his wonderful new enclosure, which will go on to provide enjoyment and enrichment for fellow chimps in their rehabilitation process.
We have also recently provided further funding to help CCC build another large enclosure of this nature to improve the rehabilitation and re-wilding process for other rescued chimps. Please see link below if you would like to donate towards this new development project;
The majority of the chimps rescued by CCC are those confiscated when traders who capture and sell them into the illegal exotic pet trade, zoo and circus industry, are intercepted by the authorities. In fact, this is how OAT originally came to support CCC when we were approached by Ofir Drori, founder of Eagle Network, to help provide quarantine enclosures at CCC to facilitate the confiscation of 3 chimps (Ali, Dave & Rambo) following the arrest of traders that Eagle Network had orchestrated.
Ali & Dave are doing well in their rehabilitation programme and are well on their way to being returned to the wild in the future. Sadly Rambo passed away last year from a sudden illness.
Thats all for now, its feels good to be communicating with you again and I look forward to sharing more heartwarming stories with you in the coming months and beyond. I’ll sign off with a short video I made as a tribute to the late Coco. 💜