Back in 1999, my colleagues and I brought the first rescued chimpanzees to our new forested sanctuary, which I would soon name Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center, based on its location near the confluence of the Sanaga and Yong Rivers in Cameroon’s Mbargue Forest. That same year, we established IDA-Africa as a program of In Defense of Animals (IDA) to be the fund-raising arm for our life-saving work in Cameroon.
Now, after 18 years of rescuing orphaned, illegally trafficked chimpanzees, we have separated from IDA to operate as a new U.S. based non-profit organization, aptly named Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue, after the beautiful sanctuary in Cameroon. We have been working toward this goal for several years and have built an active, enthusiastic Board of Directors dedicated specifically to our critical mission.
Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue is committed to providing the highest standards of care for chimpanzee victims of the bushmeat, pet and international zoo trades. Our beautiful, kind Bouboule, survived in a small cage at an urban zoo for decades before we could finally bring her to Sanaga-Yong in 2003. At our sanctuary for chimpanzees, she adopted four rescued babies, who she gently nurtured throughout their childhood and adolescent years. Today they are her grown-up kids, who treat her with the utmost respect and deference. She still occasionally shares her food with them.
While some of our residents, like Bouboule, suffered for decades before we could change their lives, we have saved many illegally trafficked infants. By providing a permanent sanctuary, as well as technical assistance for confiscations when needed, Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue enables authorities to enforce laws against trafficking. We also remain committed to carrying out diverse education and sensitization initiatives, collaborating with the government to protect chimpanzee habitat, working with international partners on strategies to combat the illegal wildlife trade, and increasing the engagement of local people through opportunities and programs that improve their lives.
All of our successes – saving lives; providing a safe, healthy and nurturing environment; collaborating with locals and law enforcement; educating people around the world; developing and sustaining local economies; and conserving large tracks of land for our sanctuary as well as lands for free-living populations – have been made possible because individual donors like you have been by our side. As we look to the future with excitement, we are confident we are in a better position than ever to help ensure the survival of our closest cousins.
Please support the critically important work today by making a donation in honor of our lovely Bouboule. Your help means the world to Bouboule, her adopted family and chimpanzees still living free.