Tchimpounga Nature Reserve is situated on a coastal plain of dry open savannahs, densely forested gorges, flood plains, mangrove swamps, and Africa’s most endangered ecosystem type, the coastal Mayombe forest, of which only approximately 10% remains. These forests combined shelter more than 300 species of tree and 10 000 animal species, many of which are endangered, including Chimpanzees, Forest Elephants, Western Lowland Gorillas, guenons, mandrill, civets, jackals, Pangolins, pythons, 3 species of antelopes and 11 species of bats. It is estimated that between 20 000 to 30 000 chimpanzees are likely to be found in these forests, making Congo Republic 1 of 5 African countries holding more than 85% of the world’s last remaining wild populations of chimpanzees.
Congolese authorities confiscate a steady flow of chimpanzees as a result of the relentless illegal hunting/trading of chimpanzees. Between 1992 and 2009 178 chimpanzees have arrived at the sanctuary, managed by Jane Goodall Institute (JGI). Of these chimpanzees, 141 are still alive. A new sanctuary is being developed 50km north of Pointe Noire in the region of Kouilou, Republic of Congo. Our joint goal is to establish a release program for 60 chimpanzees that are deemed suitable. This will be the first release for JGI and one of only a small number of chimpanzee releases to ever occur.
Taronga has pledged support for at least five years starting from 2010/11, to ensure the releases can be carried out with appropriate resources. Skilled staff will also assist in the building of temporary holding facilities. In order to increase the chances of success, our behavioural biologist will assist in the selection of the individuals predicted to be most likely to survive in the new and challenging environment. This knowledge based on over 25 years of chimpanzee management at Taronga zoo was specifically sought by Jane Goodall.