Located in Cameroon’s remote Mbargue Forest, Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center/Sanctuary provides a permanent home in natural habitat for chimpanzee victims of the bushmeat, pet and international zoo trades. Nursing infants are usually captured as a by-product of the illegal trade in ape meat, more generally called bushmeat, and can be sold within the country as pets or smuggled out to meet the growing demand for wildlife in Asian zoos. Some poachers target nursing mothers especially for their infants.
Founded in 1999 and occupying 225 acres in Cameroon’s Mbargue Forest, the sanctuary is currently home to 80 chimpanzees ranging in age from two to over 50 years. Resident chimpanzees spend their days in tracts of enclosed forest ranging in size from 1.3 to 20 acres, and they choose to sleep in protected large cages adjacent to their enclosures. The grounds include nine chimpanzee enclosures, cabins for international volunteers and visitors, camp kitchen, veterinary clinic, diagnostic laboratory, management office, education center and shelter for staff meetings and meals.
Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue plays a vital role in combating the illegal wildlife trade; without a sanctuary for illegally trafficked orphans, there could be no confiscations, arrests or prosecutions of poachers and dealers. Sanaga-Yong staff also provides authorities with technical assistance in confiscating and transporting chimpanzees when needed.
Some of the 80 resident chimpanzees at the sanctuary have been confiscated as infants from poachers or dealers; others have suffered on chains or in small cages for decades before their rescue.