Central African sanctuary gives hope to chimpanzees and their rescuers
In 2019, there was an increase in arrivals of new chimpanzees, a record nine. Lwiro’s partner Virunga National Park donated flight costs and a pilot to assist with air transfers of orphans recovered in remote areas of the DRC. Then, in December, a severe flu hit the shrine. More than 90 percent of chimpanzees contracted the virus and two died. Busakara fell very ill, but Lwiro’s vets were able to help her out.
In March 2020, when the new coronavirus took hold in the DRC, VÃ©lez del Burgo was worried about chimpanzees, monkeys and staff. âChimpanzees are very susceptible to respiratory diseases,â she says. âWe didn’t know the effect the coronavirus could have. “
There have been reports of many orphaned chimpanzees in various parts of the country, but under lockdown no one has been able to bring them to the sanctuary. Uncertainty, coupled with a drop in donor funding, has increased the pressure. But a lifeline has come in the form of support from the Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance, a partner conservation organization that has spearheaded a fundraising campaign to keep the sanctuary running. âThere were days, says VÃ©lez del Burgo, when I thought, I can’t do that anymore.