Urgent help needed

We need some help to fix/rebuild an enclosure and buy a new VHF radio…

A few days ago a tree fell on the youngsters’ enclosure during the first storm of the year. The tree fell on the electrical wires. The resulting tension on the wires broke  3 posts and pulled out a lot of insulators. It had a domino effect, which even led to one post in the adults’ enclosure to fall. Some of the posts were weak anyway since a huge bushfire severly damaged them in February 2009.

The youngsters’ enclosure in February 2009 after the bushfire

The adults’ enclosure after the fire, Feb 2009

This huge bushfire reached the enclosures around noon during a hot day – probably set further afield by poachers- , it jumped all the fire-breaks; we usually make firebreaks all around the sanctuary during the dry season. We could not contain the fire immediately because  of the strong wind and the intense heat. It burnt down all the dry vegetation in the enclosures, and finally, after serveral hours of fighting the fire, the team managed to stop it only a few meters away from the main camp. Thankfully, none of the chimps or staff were injured. It took several weeks to fix the damages but since then the enclosures have not been as strong as they used to be.

I don’t know yet the extent of the damage to the youngsters’ enclosure but I will speak with Matt the manager on Saturday. Apparently the team managed to fix the adult enclosure (one of the volunteers is a zookeeper with lots of experience with electrical fences). But the youngsters’ enclosure will probably need a lot of repair and I am not sure whether the CCC team has all the necessary material on site to do so. We will probably need to buy and bring new insulators, wires and posts. So we would more than grateful if you could help us to rebuild the youngsters’ group a good and robust enclosure! They go on walks every morning for 5 hours but they also spend the rest of the afternoon in their enclosure. We do this to gradually wean them from human presence. Their enclosure is part of their rehabilitaion process and we can’t keep them locked in their cage while they are not out on walks. 

As a misfortune never comes alone, few weeks before this storm, a young adult chimpanzee broke the radio during an escape. A dead tree had fallen on the adult enclosure, this time not damaging the posts. Most of the adult chimpanzees escaped, using this tree as a ladder. They did not cause too much trouble as most of them went back into their cage voluntarily.The keepers had to use oral anesthetic with only 3 males after they enjoyed being outside for a couple of hours! One of these 3 males, Rocky, before the keepers managed to give him the oral anesthetic and bring him back to the cage, visited the camp and found the VHF radio and broke it!

Rocky is a big but sweet guy!

Rocky is a big but sweet guy!

The team uses this radio for daily contact with the team which monitors the released chimps. The release camp is about 20kms away from the sanctuary (it takes a couple of hours to reach it) and the VHF radio is the only easy way for to communicate. The release camp is far away from everything, there is no car or motocycle there (the CCC does not have enough funds to purchase a motorbike or a quad). Our only mode of transport with the release site are 2 boats. Park protection teams also use the release camp as a base and the radio is used every day to share information about the health status of the released chimpanzees, as well as the health of the teams etc. If the teams at the release camp require supplies (e.g. food, medicines, etc.) or if the Park protection team have caught a poacher and need to bring him back to town, the radio is our umbilical cord!

 But basically the radio is essential for security reasons.  There are 2 satellite phones, one in each camp, which can be used in emergency situation because the communications are highly expensive! A CCC expatriate volunteer recently brought the radio to a specialist shop in Conakry but they could not fix it. We could buy a second-hand VHF radio for about $250. Please help us reconnect!

You can make secure donation  online (Paypal) at www.projetprimatesfrance.org in the “soutien” section. It is in French, sorry… Many many thanks in advance for your help and support and a huge thanks to Brenton for your kind donation!

Take care,

Chris

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