After an undercover investigation by authorities and wildlife ngo LAGA, a baby chimp has been rescued and two traffickers arrested in Cameroon.
The less than 6-month-old chimp was found terrified, living with 7 heads and 30 legs and hands from other chimps believed to be his family.
“We received information from our partners LAGA about an illegal transaction and we immediately set up a team to get these guys,” said Mekam Anatole, local wildlife chief. “Chimpanzees are totally protected by our laws”.
“Such horrific sights are common in the numerous arrest operations of ape traffickers carried this year,” said a LAGA spokesman.
“Sources close to the latest case say the two arrested traffickers had been supplying dozens of chimpanzee heads which are transported to Nigeria.
“All they need is for the client to place orders early enough for the poaching to provide the necessary quantities.”
The traffickers are now facing a maximum of 3 years in prison under Cameroon’s 1994 Wildlife Law.
The baby chimpanzee “was immediately attended to and given vital first-aid treatment by veterinarians” from Ape Action Africa. “But the stress still continues as she cries loud when approached by humans.”
It was previously believed that apes were mainly killed for their meat, but recent investigations determined that chimp parts are used in black magic rituals and ‘mystical practices’, explained LAGA’s deputy director Tah Eric Kaba.
According to UNEP, the illegal trade of chimps and chimp parts takes the lives of about 3,000 great apes from Africa and Southeast Asia every year.
Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife together with LAGA have been working non-stop for the last 10 years to save the endangered great apes.
LAGA has so far helped imprison 1,000 major traffickers across eight countries. Within the past 4 months, their work saw 34 chimp skulls and heads and 34 limbs, and 24 gorilla skulls and heads and 16 limbs seized. In total, 22 traffickers were arrested.