Ransom demanded for the return of 3 kidnapped chimpanzees (Congo)

A criminal gang has kidnapped three rescue chimpanzees from a chimpanzee rescue centre, the ‘Jack primate rehabilitation center’ in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and are asking for a six-figure sum for their return. It is the first recorded primate kidnap and ransom demand in history as far as we know.

A proof of life video has been sent to the shelter with the threat that unless they pay the ransom demand a chimp’s head will follow.

Monga and either Cesar or Hussein
Monga and either Cesar or Hussein. Photos: Daily Mail online.

The founder of the rehabilitation and rescue centre, Franck Chantereau, said that paying the ransom is not an option. He said that it “would put all the world’s apes at greater risk than they already are”.

It seems that the gang know that this shelter is partly funded from international associations like the Brigitte Bardot Foundation. They believe that there’s money there to be had. Florence Teneau of the Brigitte Bardot Foundation said: “These shelters receive a lot of aid from international associations like ours, and the traffickers take advantage of this.”

Three chimpanzees have been taken: Monga a five-year-old female, Hussein and Cesar. Monga has had a very hard life. She arrived last year from the capital Kinshasa where she was a chained pet to an army officer who fed her marijuana. She had broken teeth and a damaged jaw because she had been beaten. Having been rescued and in living at the sanctuary she had been given a second chance but now she has to go through a fresh horror which may well end up in her brutal death.

Cesar is about two years old and had been at the sanctuary for a few weeks before being kidnapped. He had been rescued from a market.

It is believed that the wildlife trafficking trade is estimated to be valued at as much as $23 billion annually. It is driven by collectors in the United Arab Emirates and Asia.

Chantereau admitted that there was little chance of seeing his chimpanzees again. Buyers pay about £10,000 for a baby chimp. They share 90% of their DNA with humans.

Shockingly, when one is taken from the wild their entire family group is killed which is up to a dozen chimps. The chimp is endangered in Africa with around 300,000 remaining from about a million at the start of the 20th century.

Chantereau said that the wildlife trade had become a war in Africa since he established the sanctuary. There are three in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The approximate 100 chimps under their care are now under armed guard.

He said that the criminal gang underestimated the difficulties that they might face in taking the chimps as they are very strong, and they can harm and even kill people. Furniture had been upturned at the sanctuary indicating a struggle to get the chimps away and into vehicles.

The compounding problem which is always the same with conservation which is that the more destruction of wildlife there is the rarer the animals become and therefore the more valuable they become and in turn this results in more wildlife trafficking of those animals because humans like to possess rarity.

This story is just yet another example although a unique one of the massive and destructive wildlife trade which is centred on Africa. It is notable that China has moved into Africa in a very big way providing the country with loans which they can’t pay back and also giving them access to the wildlife of Africa together with the precious metals et cetera for their manufacturing.

The Chinese dish out loans that can’t be paid back because it gives them leverage over officials so that they can make demands upon them.

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Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Speciesism - 'them and us' | Cruelty - always shameful
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