Lolo and Yabien
Orphans Lolo and Yabien never run out of things to do here at the sanctuary.
Primates are considered a delicacy, so they are hunted for their meat. But young animals are worth more alive, so when a mother is killed the baby is taken to be sold as a pet. A young female baboon was brought to the Limbe Wildlife Centre by officials of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife. At a border control post in Ako they had confiscated the baboon from some people who wanted to smuggle her to Nigeria. They took care of the monkey for a few days until they had the opportunity to travel to Limbe and hand her over to us. When she arrived she was still tied in box where they had found her. Apart from a superficial wound on her leg she was okay. She is now in the quarantine and doing very well.
When Arno was one year old, his mother was killed by hunters and he was sold to a Lebanese timber merchant. After three years the merchant moved, leaving Arno and his older companion Anthal without any food. Both animals were rescued by the LWC. Arno is a young male gorilla with a very big attitude that often got him into trouble with Chella, our Silverback. But ever since the Taiping-4 gorillas from South Africa arrived, Arno has been their closest friend.
Fraser’s eagle owl
In 2008 a Fraser’s eagle owl was brought in after having been attacked by children who had thrown stones at him. His left eye was seriously injured and he could not be returned to the wild. We began a training program and today Fraser flies completely free on our grounds and comes back when signaled. Owls are considered witches in Cameroonian culture, which is why people don’t hesitate to kill them. Therefore we have created an education activity around Fraser’s daily flying to help prevent others from being harmed.
Preuss’s Monkey Twins
Of all the guenons in the Limbe Wildlife Centre, the Preuss’s monkey is the most endangered. The Preuss’s monkey has the same limited range as the drill in the western part of Cameroon, the neighboring part of Nigeria and the island of Bioko. The Mount Cameroon area is very important for it’s survival, but hunting pressure is still high.
Head Keeper Jonathan meets Ilor, an orphaned chimpanzee whose family was killed for bush meat. Ilor is now part of the large group of LWC chimpanzees.
Mandrill Jake was kept as a ‘watch dog’ by a family in Douala, until he was rescued and brought to the Limbe Wildlife Centre.
New arrivals are often so young that they need special feeding and care. At night they go home with one of the volunteers.
Infant gorilla Adjibolo is introduced to Brighter and Twiggs. If possible we try to give our young orphans a foster mom.
With only a few thousand remaining in the wild, the drill is the most endangered primate species in Africa. Around 60 drills live in the LWC.
All primates in the Limbe Wildlife Centre are housed in spacious enclosures. The gorillas like to climb the high trees in their enclosure.
Parrots are illegally captured for the pet trade. When seized the Limbe Wildlife Centre takes care of their rehabilitation and release.
Reptiles are a favorite source of bush meat and they are traded alive to keep the meat fresh. Most confiscated reptiles are released back to the wild.
When the rains fall inside the Limbe Wildlife Centre in the West African rainforest of Cameroon, flooding from the nearby river marbles through the sanctuary like paint on canvass but the animals pay it no mind as they master the branches of the new climbing structure and have a good roll through the soggy grassy down below. Rainy season, after all, is a natural cycle for gorillas, chimpanzees and other animals living here, and for them, the most powerful form of healing often begins in the mud.
Since 1993, the Limbe Wildlife Centre has been taking in victims of wildlife trafficking, the bush meat trade and the illegal pet trade. The animals come in from all corners of the forest, some with bullet wounds, broken arms or injured wings. In time each new arrival becomes acquainted with the softer side of human nature as a fleet of care givers and veterinary specialists work to restore them body & soul.
“Our baby chimpanzees just got a new climbing structure and a pool,” explains Assistant Project Manager Sofie Meilvang. “To begin with they didn’t really dare to use the pool, so we had to go in with them.”
But bathing with a chimp is not so bad after all, and frankly, it’s no surprise that these little ones need reassurance. Most, after all, are orphans. Primates are considered a delicacy in Central West Africa, so they are hunted for their meat. Because young animals are worth more alive, the babies are taken to be sold as a pet after their mothers are killed. It’s only through the efforts of agents at the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife that some are confiscated and taken to Limbe where rehabilitation is not only defined by the body’s ability to heal, but also the spirit.
“To measure recovery in body weight and mended injuries alone, would be to miss half of the equation,” explains Daria Justyn, Vice President of the Harmony Fund. “Although the Limbe Wildlife Centre aims to treat and return the majority of patients back to the wild, the orphaned chimps and some of the others become lifelong residents and building them a proper home has nothing to do with measuring them for cages.”
Elaborate climbing gyms and cozy rest areas are standard quarters. The chimpanzees and gorillas form social, ‘family’ units and they play, nurture and protect one another just as they would in the wild. If you stopped by for a visit on Sunday afternoon you might find mandrills napping in the sun while wooden crates are begin pried open to free hundreds of African Grey Parrots seized at the airport. Baby squirrels who had been thrown into a garbage can are being nursed with bottles, and down by the river, a crocodile is making her return to the river after weeks of recovery from her own captive ordeal.