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 Asia. 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 72 chimpanzees ranging in age from three to over 50 years. Resident chimpanzees spend their days in tracts of enclosed forest ranging in size from one to 20 acres, and they sleep protected within large cages adjacent to their enclosures. The grounds include cabins for volunteers, a kitchen, a veterinary clinic, a small diagnostic laboratory, a small office, an education center, a shelter for staff meetings and meals, seven forested enclosures, and seven sleeping cages, each with multiple large chambers. 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 and no arrests or prosecutions of dealers. Sanaga-Yong staff also provides authorities with technical assistance in confiscating and transporting chimpanzees when needed.
Some of the seventy-two resident chimpanzees at the Center have been confiscated as infants from poachers or dealers; others have suffered on chains or in small cages for decades before their rescue.