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Why a sanctuary for chimps?

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It is sometimes hard to believe, but chimps in the wild (our 'cousins', with whom we share 98.8% of our genes) are still, today being slaughtered for their meat or captured for laboratory experiments. Often adults are taken and the babies are left behind or end up as pets in homes in the forest villages and towns. These later grow up and become unmanageable and are frequently killed or neglected. Here at Boyoma we take in these young orphans or injured adult chimpanzees and help them recover and lead peaceful lives in the forest of our island sanctuary.

Why on an island in Congo?

There are two good reasons we are building a chimp sanctuary on an island in the river Congo:

Firstly, more chimps live here in the Northern lowland forests of the DRC than anywhere else on Earth. And the growth in the mining of gold and other precious metals in the area has resulted in an increase in illegal poaching (including chimps) for bushmeat to sell to the miners and on markets in the towns.

Secondly, chimps dislike water so prefer to stay on their island home rather than trying to swim to the shore. They have all they need here too: shelter, regular food, expert medical supervision and untamed forest to play in.

What is a sanctuary?

A sanctuary is defined as "a place for the preservation and protection of wild animals" and Boyoma is being built for precisely this purpose. Our island will, when finished, consist of a fully equipped infirmary where sick or injured orphan chimps can be cared for by trained veterinarians; separate areas of enclosed forest for up to 125 chimps to play in during the day or sleep in at night safely; an information and education center and eight Nature Lodges for visitors (see 'Resort') as well as housing and work spaces for our staff of 'Mama's' (surrogate mothers), caretakers, cooks, cleaners and maintenance personnel.

It would be nice to think that we could release healthy chimps back into the wild, perhaps we will be able to one day. Until that is possible we do all we can to give our chimps a safe and happy home.

Who is behind Boyoma?

Driving force behind Boyoma Sanctuary is the Wasmoeth Wildlife Foundation, which has been developing wildlife protection programs in the DRC since 2001 (see www.wasmoethwildlife.org).
Other important partners are the Government of the DRC from whom we have leased the island for 99 years, the regional government of Kisangani Province Oriental and a number of local village chiefs.
A team of some 50 local village men are building and maintaining the infrastructure under the supervision of our 'man-on-the-ground' Jean Pascal Bova.
Our staff of teachers and caretakers run the school we built to teach children in the area - alongside reading, writing etc.- how to recognize and respect threatened African wildlife species.

Where is Boyoma?

Boyoma island (or Ile Afemba as it is officially called) lies in the river Congo, in the District de la Tshopo, Province Orientale. It is covered in what is defined as secondary forest, one in which sunlight reaches the forest floor providing habitat for a variety of species. In order to reach the island we have had to cut out a road through the forest from the main road to Kisangani, 35 km away, building five bridges on the way. We then built a school for the children of the villages in the area, including Sinia on the river bank, as well as two ports, one near Sinia and another on the island itself.

For videos and photographs of how we built the road through the forest and a school for the local villagers visit our previous website.

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