Chimps are well-known for their intelligence, tool-use, complex social behavior and their genetic similarities to humans but nothing really prepares you for how accurate that statement is until you spend time with them. From the physical - the similarities in the texture of their skin, their fingers, nails, muscles to social interactions like the sharing of food in by the chimps in this image. Watching these chimps reminded me of grade school when I would share my lunch with a classmate - sometimes it was altruistic, others not so much. I saw the same reasoning here. I was so struck by their intelligence and emotional capacity that not a day goes by that I don’t think of them. And, I’m haunted by the reality that their population has declined by 77% - 80% and is expected to continue to decline unless we create a groundswell of interest to save them. The pictures below were taken at Lwiro Primate Center in Democratic Republic of Congo. @lwiro_primates
The moment when everything in life clarifies and all that’s good and pure appears and you see what’s really important.... coming to you from @lwiro_primates.
Meet Gari. He was found chained and tied to tree in Congo's Bili forest with about 60 other chimps. Gari is one of the lucky ones b/c he ended up at @lwiro_primateswhere he lives with his adopted chimpanzee family today. @Lwiro_Primates is one of two chimp sanctuaries in Congo able to care for orphan chimps.
That gaze and those eyes - a scene not to be forgotten. I can't say enough about the staff at Lwiro- the care, compassion, and dedication of their staff is awe inspring. Way to go @Lwiro_Primates Securing the future of primates in the DRC. www.lwiroprimates.org
Janine & Tony
Kakule is one of the “lucky” ones. He arrived at @lwiro_primates with a relatively healthy confidence level. The day I watched him with his caretaker he was full of life - running, rolling and practicing his climbing skills. Occasionally a little mischievous behavior would pop while he played with his caretaker. Kakule is unique though. Many chimps orphaned as a result of the bushmeat and pet trade die as a result of the trauma they endure during capture or from abuse / neglect.
Meet Tony. A 7 month old eastern chimpanzee recently rescued by the Virunga Rangers and air lifted to #Lwiro_Primates. ****This pic is adorable but it’s a tragedy and damn shame that I’m photographing Tony in a sanctuary and NOT in the WILD where he belongs. You see Tony, like Kakule, is likely a Bushmeat Orphan - a baby chimp whose family was killed by poachers for their meat but who is too small to be killed for the same so instead they are put on the black market for sale as a pet.
Janine and Kakule
When baby chimps arrive at @lwiroprimates, they’re often scared, sick and traumatized. But the caretakers at Lwiro, like Janine pictures here helps them feel a little better. They spend 24-7 with these babies caring for their every need. While it’s critical that Tony and Kakule bond with Janine, the primary goal is for them to bond with other chimps. Every day, the bushmeat, illegal pet trade and deforestation is slowly killing the last of their kind. Lwiro has stepped up and is doing their part in saving these wonderful creatures but we all share in that responsibility.
Kakule was rescued from private home in Kisangani a city designated as a red zone b/c of it's thriving wildlife and bushmeat trade. Today, thanks to Dr. Kakule, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (ICCN) and folks at Lwiro Primates Kakule is learning to be a chimp again - climb, forage, nest and communicate with his peers.