Tchimpounga Welcomes Eight Chimpanzees from Angola


A multi-year collaborative rescue effort pays off.

Eight chimpanzees have a new home at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of the Congo (RoC) thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Angolan and Congolese governments, along with JGI RoC and our partner đź”— Wild at Life.

In Congo, JGI’s prevention and education efforts have successfully reduced the number of chimpanzees caught in the illegal wildlife trade. But just across the border in Angola, the number of rescued chimpanzees  is on the rise. Since 2019, we’ve teamed up with Wild at Life and the Angolan government to care for these chimps. And when their temporary holding centers have become too crowded, we’ve offered them safe haven at our đź”— Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center. Organization and planning of this transfer was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Only after travel restrictions eased in 2022 were we able to acquire the necessary permits for transferring the chimpanzees between Angola and Congo. 

Four of the chimpanzees were relocated from the Cabinda Enclave of Angola, which is home to the Maiombe National Park—a vast forested habitat for wild chimpanzees: 

In addition to the chimpanzees rescued from Angola’s Cabinda Enclave, four chimpanzees were rescued in the vicinity of Luanda—Angola’s capital. Being outside the jurisdiction of National Park authorities, these efforts required a lot of coordination between governments, law enforcement, and the community. 

In July 2022, JGI RoC’s Executive Director Dr. Rebeca Atencia arrived in Angola and organized a team for the transfer of eight chimpanzees to Tchimpounga. With the chimpanzees safely secured in transport cages, the vehicle convoy made its way towards the Congo border. Unfortunately, upon arrival, the border was closed by immigration authorities and the convoy was denied passage due to the late hour. With eight chimpanzees still in their cages, Wild at Life acted quickly and called the highest regional authority they could. Soon after, the Governor of Cabinda activated an unprecedented emergency response to open the border for the convoy to cross. 

Upon their arrival at Tchimpounga, the chimpanzees were divided into two groups in separate dormitories, with the two largest (Junior and Xico) separated from the other six smaller chimpanzees. As expected, the chimpanzees were initially nervous and a bit scared. Tasty snacks helped ease their stress, and within hours they relaxed and became more comfortable. A large, outdoor enclosure with natural grass and large climbing structures was a particularly welcome sight for the baby group, who were visibly excited about the ability to run and climb in a large, open space. 

The years-long, collaborative effort to get these chimpanzees safely to Tchimpounga paid off!

We’re working towards the day when chimpanzees can live in the wild without the threats of illegal trafficking and hunting. Until that day comes, Tchimpounga will provide a much-needed home for rescued chimps in need of care and rehabilitation. Stay tuned for more updates from this collaborative, life-saving effort.

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