“They warned that they were going to decapitate one of the baby chimps and send their head back.”
Three baby chimpanzees—all victims of cruel poaching raids that killed their entire families—have been abducted from a primate rescue in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Just over one week ago, criminals broke into Lubumbashi’s J.A.C.K. Primate Sanctuary in the middle of the night to steal the babies, all of whom had just recently been rescued from remorseless traffickers.
What followed in the aftermath were threats to harm the chimps, death threats to the sanctuary’s founders and their children, and an unreasonable ransom demand. And the abductors sent a shocking video as proof of their determination.
“Seeing the video of the orphaned chimps, we can’t hold back tears. We saw one of the little babies tied up, arms in the air, restrained by ropes. It’s abominable,” Founder Franck Chantereau lamented in an interview to france3.
The stolen babies are between one and four years old, and named Hussein, Caesar and Monga.
“These three babies, they lived through hell, their families were massacred.”
That’s why he and his wife Roxane, co-founder of J.A.C.K, went through great lengths and financial struggle to get them to their rescue to help. The chimps had gotten a second chance.
And now this.
“People believe that these trafficking stories no longer exist, that everything is too controlled, that it is impossible today to send baby primates to the other side of the world by plane. But these traffickers, they are so well organized, it’s like the mafia. They know all the laws and in reality, trafficking has never been so rampant.”
Adult primates are hunted for their meat, and their babies are sold to greedy buyers of rare animals or zoos at absurd prices.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, animal trafficking generates billions of dollars.
“For the past week, we can’t sleep, we can’t live,” Franck continued. “What haunts me night and day is how helpless I feel, and not knowing: Where are they? Are they still alive? Still in the country?”
Franck and Roxane have a growing force of wildlife-loving friends and experts on their side. And local authorities have opened an investigation and are taking the abduction very seriously. But it’s still an enormous risk they’re taking, bringing this issue to light. Right now, they’re protected by bodyguards and the local police. “We don’t trust anyone anymore.”
“Despite the increasing effort to combat the wildlife trade In Africa, it’s common for eco-guards to be threatened and even shot. It happens every day,” says Florence Teneau of the Brigitte Bardot Foundation.
The babies are still missing. You can stay up to date with the story here or on J.A.C.K.’s Facebook page. Please stand with us as we help Franck and Roxanne locate their chimps and bring the abductors to justice.