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Mission Caita: Chimpanzee Rescue Project Angola

Elephant Rescue Project and Orphanage Zambia
Species Conservation Chizarira National Park and Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
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 is 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 inhabiting the area.
 
Wild@Life started to be operative in the region since 2017 and this is how Mission Caita is born in 2019:
 
The Rangers are missing a considerable amount of technological and basic needs. 
Wild@Life patrols Mayombe Region. During such works we confiscate poached animals, and poachers are been brought in for questioning. Our team enters the forest and documents illegal timber cutting.

Rangers are not fully equipped and sometimes they even lack the funds to buy diesel the patrol the area. Wild@Life supports the rangers financially and brings them the much needed forest and anti poaching gears within Mission Caita.

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. 

We have tried hard. We 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 WE SAVED THE GIRLS! We finally managed to send them to Congo, where they will live for a few weeks in quarantine and from there 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 were kept had a baby girl chimpanzee of 6 months old, Cristina. Wild@Life assisted her as well and send her to safety to Congo. 

A few days later, during Maiombe Rainforest patrol, our rangers have rescued a 7 months old girl, Maiombe. 

MISSION CAITA BIRTH: 

It hurts so much to talk about this but our team has apprehended a car the same week. And a chimpanzee, later we named Caita, of 7 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 could do for Caita is to treat the symptoms and hope that Caita is strong enough to fight the disease. She had the best of the best caring for her; fighting for her and with her. Also, she got 2 fingers that was trapped in the snare and got tetanus infected removed in surgery. 
 
BUT SHE DID NOT MAKE IT! Sadly her little body gave up to septic shock and we have lost her. Her burial was simple. She caught the attention of many around the world and she will never be forgotten. 
 
Caita is just one example of wildlife trafficking. For every baby chimpanzee torn away from wildlife, another average of 10 from the same family trying to save the baby is killed in the process. We have saved countless lives from horrific circumstances. Animals who were all taken from their families / homes in the wild by humans, to be sold to black market. They are sold for their flesh, their bones, their blood, their organs, their body parts. They are sold for humans to hold them 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. 
Cabinda is home to more animals like this, and we need to lift these animals to better living conditions. Wild@Life will undertake the task and we will make sure to built the first sanctuary of the area within Mission Caita.
 
Mission Caita has 2 goals:
Saving chimpanzees trapped in cages throughout Cabinda and built the first sanctuary.
Empowering Rangers in the fight against poachers. 

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Thank you for believing in us.

Asli Han Gedik

Wild@Life e.V.

Chairman