The Rescued chimpanzee’s safe haven- Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary Congo
Every living specie would love to be in harmony and grow around a loving and peaceful environment but that’s not just as so. Chimpanzees in Congo face a high threat from poachers as the older ones are killed and sold for bush meat and the babies being sold illegally as pets and for the entertainment industry. Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary or orphanage comes in as the savior to the chimpanzees that survive being exported and can’t live on their own, they find a safe haven here.
Lwiro Chimpanzee Orphanage was created in 2003 with a short-term goal of ensuring the welfare of the primates and to increase the holding capacity of the sanctuary in case of future confiscations. Ever since that time the Sanctuary has taken over 100 primates including African apes and monkeys. The major aim here is to join protection and conservation efforts with high hopes of reducing the number of animals being hunted and killed. The sanctuary works on a mission that states,
“Work to provide the best possible care for orphaned primates in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while working to ensure their protection in the wild.”
Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary therefore plays a vital role of taking care of the chimpanzees after rescuing them from illegal poachers. The ultimate goal of all the partners is to release the well-off animals into the wild again.
This center is a Pan African Sanctuary Alliance accredited primate sanctuary for primates (chimpanzees and monkeys in particular) playing a crucial role in conserving Kahuzi Biega National Park. Just four kilometers from this lowland gorilla park, this is the only chimpanzee and monkey sanctuary found in the kivu region and with its establishment, the center has devised means to accommodate the vast influx on animals.
Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary also supports the local community by giving them some revenue back per month, hiring out some people and by purchasing food for the animals from them.
The center plans to achieve its ultimate goal by massive education and public awareness campaigns.
Volunteering at the Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Centre is not for the faint-hearted since the Centre is located in a politically unstable area of the Democratic Republic of Congo. You don’t need animal experience to volunteer at the center, if you speak French the sole requirement is a willingness to handle any job that comes up.
History of Chimpanzee trekking in Congo
By 1987-1989 there was a network of about 80km trails in the Tango forest for chimpanzee trekking. During this period, the process of habituation started and this took two years with approximately 50 chimpanzees habituated and trekked on Congo safaris. The treks soon began and in the next three years, this was a very important source of Tourism revenue both to the Government and the small community of Tango.
Unfortunately, at that time, the civil wars that existed in Congo put an end to chimpanzee trekking safaris that had started booming from 1992-2001. Despite of these prolonged conflicts, Virunga National Park rangers were able to steadfastly protect and monitor the chimpanzees in Tango. When peace eventually returned, the Frankfurt Zoological Society which had a team of 35 people then, all from the local community, was able to restart the habituation process. The chimpanzees were then habituated again and tourists were able to track them like before.
Whether it’s marveling at the sight of Mountain or lowland gorillas on a Congo gorilla trekking safari, you can add a visit to Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary as an extra activity.
Uganda just proximate to Congo has an island that’s takes care of orphaned chimpanzees though this one is on an island in Lake Victoria-Africa’s largest fresh water lake. Known as Ngamba island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, it one of the best places to have a chimpanzee experience on a Uganda wildlife safari as they enjoy this safe haven.