Angola’s most impressive natural resource is the Mayombe rainforest in the Northern Cabinda Province. The forest covers and average of 290.000 hectares. Mayombe is often described as the “Amazon of Africa”, hosting a remarkable variety of plant and animal species. Wildlife in Mayombe reserve includes mountain elephants or forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis), gorilla, chimpanzee, crocodile, monkey, parrots and butterflies. However Mayombe is not just an amazing forest for animals, but also an enormous supplier of tropical hardwoods. There are many precious woods in the area, including ebony and rare variety of mahogany. According to estimates, the forest supplies around 150.000 cubic meters of timber a year for the construction industry and export activity. Over the last year, with China being present more than ever in the region, and the illegal clearing of forest by various groups, the forest sees a high risk of deterioration.
Located in the North between the village of Inhuca (Buco Zau Municipality) and the village of Miconje (Belize Municipality), Mayombe occupies most of the Northeastern Cabinda. The Forest Park Reserve was set up primarily to protect the wildlife population and flora, but the work done within the Reserve is not enough to make this happen, as poaching and bush meat industry seems to be notorious.
Mayombe is a National Park and animals are protected under CITIES rules and agreements. The main species living in in the area are mountain elephants, Western Lowland Gorilla, Chimpanzee and gray parrot. There is a plan to protect and conserve the forest, but no further movement has been done so far. The plan is lacking decision making process and finances, as four countries are involved. Furthermore, there are absolutely no demographics on the fauna of the forest. It is even not possible to give estimation on the different population habiting the area.
Overall Mayombe is not in many of the plans nor has any solid tangible budget put aside for conservation. African Amazon consists literally of a virgin land inhabiting wild species as well as notorious poachers. There have been no finances for conservation put aside for it. Cabinda has 14 rangers with very limited means, whom are extremely insufficient for that total area.
Wild@Life was there to see what can be done to preserve Mayombe. On our way to Buco Zau with Park Rangers, the Province capital, we have seen primates sold on the roadsides as bush-meat and have stopped to document it. This is one of the biggest concerns of the species extinction. Environment education needs to be provided, as well as alternative jobs, for these people to stop this trade.
The Rangers are missing a considerable amount of technological and basic needs.
Wild@Life patrolled Mayombe Region. We have confiscated poached animals, and poachers have been brought in for questioning. We then burned the confiscated animal in order to set example.
Our team entered the forest and saw some illegal timber cutting on a Sunday and we have documented the evidence.
Wild@Life rescued 2 chimpanzees kept in Cabinda
In Cabinda, we have found 2 chimpanzees kept in small chicken cages. Once rescued from poachers, these two spent their entire lives in separate small cages. A plan was done by Wild@Life to save Joana, 21 and Riquita, 16, from this miserable condition. Cabinda is home to more animals like this, and we need to lift these animals to better living conditions. Wild@Life will undertake this and we will make sure to built the first sanctuary of the area and bring these girls freedom
As you all remember, we have tried hard. We even planned to open a needed sanctuary for them and the liked of more 20 chimpanzees trapped in the country, but it was financially an impossible task for Wild@Life, run solely by volunteers.
So we have intensified our work to bring them to a safe sanctuary in nearby countries. The partnership with Angolan Parks has come to a promising outcome and through Government negotiations, we could start planning for the girls to go to Congo, as the sanctuary has kindly accepted to take them in.
The process between Governments, import export CITES papers, health check and some logistics took more time but here we are: THE GIRLS ARE SAVED! We finally managed to send them to Congo, where they will live for a few weeks in quarantine and from there they will integrate other rescued chimpanzees and learn to be free again. They, for the first time in their lives, are living in the same enclosure, and can now have the company of each other.
In the meantime, wildlife rescue never works as planned and the restaurant where the girls where kept had a baby girl chimpanzee of 6 months old, Cristina. Wild@Life also needs to assist her. A few days later, during Maiombe Rainforest patrol, local teams have rescued a 7 months old girl, Maiombe. They both need to go to a sanctuary where they can be safe again.
It hurts so much to talk about this but our team has apprehended a car the same week. And a chimpanzee of 6 years old was tied horribly in the trunk. Poachers were going to sell her to the market. We have taken her to safety, she was traumatized . It’s unknown exactly how long Caita was held captive with the poachers and what other unsanitary conditions she was exposed to. She was starting to make progress by eating and drinking but then the tetanus took hold. The baby girl Caita got her hand caught in a snare. The snare was rusty. As a result, she has contracted tetanus. All the vets can do for Caita is to treat the symptoms and hope that Caita is strong enough to fight the disease. She literally has the best of the best caring for her; fighting for her and with her. Also, she got 2 fingers removed, that was trapped in the snare and got tetanus infected.
ICaita is just one example of wildlife trafficking. We have saved countless lives from horrific circumstances. Animals who were all taken from their families and homes in the wild by humans to be sold. They are sold for their flesh, their bones, their blood, their organs, their body parts. They are sold for humans to hold captive for entertainment; many spending their entire lives trapped in tiny, filthy, barren cages. They are sold to zoos and man-made safari parks where humans pay to keep them trapped and away from everything that is natural to them. They are sold to laboratories where they’re tortured in the name of “science”. None of these animals belongs anywhere but in the wild with their families. The ones who are rescued from the evil grip of humans are given everything possible to keep them safe and their lives enriched in sanctuary but make no mistake, there is no replacement for their families and their wild homes. None.