Thirty-two live chimpanzee specimens from southeastern DRC were seized in Zimbabwe on Tuesday. They were headed to South Africa. According to the Congolese Environment Ministry, four traffickers, three Congolese and one Malawian, are under arrest in Zimbabwe.
For the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature, ICCN, this trade in protected animals is a threat to their survival. Of the 2 million chimpanzees counted in the world at the beginning of the 20th century, only about 500,000 remain, recalls the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The 32 chimpanzees were captured in an area annexed to two parks, that of Upemba in Haut Lomani, and that of Kundelungu in Haut Katanga, before being transported in crates on board a large truck, according to ICCN, towards Zimbabwe where they were discovered.
We are totally against this kind of action, it destabilizes us as citizens of the DRC and as conservationists,” said Cosmas Wilungula, Director General of ICCN. We can’t imagine in which park we could catch 32 chimpanzees. That means there was a massacre of chimpanzees».
For its part, the Natural Resources Network, a platform of NGOs, is concerned about the extent of illegal trade in protected species in the country. It is true that there is a large traffic of species, even those that are totally protected, which cross the borders of the DRC or are killed in the country,” said Sabin Mande, head of the organization. Unfortunately our means do not allow us to give clear and reliable statistics».
The Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature has requested the Zimbabwean government to repatriate the 32 primates and traffickers to Kinshasa so that they can be brought to justice.