Last week, BBC investigatorsuncovered an underground smuggling ring in the Ivory Coast which had been taking baby chimps from the wild for years and selling them off to the highest bidder.The primates are often keptas pets in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and China, where wealthy buyers have no problem paying significant sums to bypass their countries laws, as much as $12,500 or more. They are often treated well in their youth, when they're still cute and small, but the babies will grow up and become adult chimpanzees, who are much stronger and more aggressive.
This means that they will either beconfined or worse...Karl Ammann, an animal rights activist told BBC:
They still have 90% of their life ahead of them. They get locked in some cage and maybe even killed in some cases because they have outlived their useful pet stage. That for me is just impossible to accept.
This fate is incredibly heartbreaking, but to make matters worse,typically up to10 monkeys die every time a baby needs to be captured.
Hunters will kill both the baby's mother and father to prevent them defending their child. They will shoot any other animals that get in the way and then sell their bodies for meat.BBC went undercover for a year as potential buyers, making numerous connections and contacts in the illegal trafficking industry. They managed to track down the orchestrators of the operation at a house in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.The journalists managed to easily obtain two falsified permits for $4000 each to allow for export of the chimps, a critically endangered species who normally aren't allowed to be transported.[caption id="attachment_16841" align="alignnone" width="976"]
Documents obtained by BBC, Source: BBC[/caption]Traffickers also create hidden compartments in shipping crates and will hide the primates amonglegal animals. Oftentimes, thisresults in the death of the monkey.For years, images related to trafficking have surfaced online showing "The Blue Room." Many photos of trafficked animals had the same distinctive blue tile. Investigators knew they were coming from somewhere in Western Africa, but couldn't pinpoint an exact country, let alone city or anything more precise.
A journalist was sent a video of a baby chimp that he was "interested in buying" and went to check in person on the well-being of the animal where he discovered the location of the small blue room, about the size of a shower stall.When he verified that the animal was indeed there, he contacted Interpol authorities who came and arrested all the men involved.Thanks to BBC, the adorable baby, since namedNemley Jr., has been moved to a zoo where he will join a mother chimp who is currently fostering two other infants, before he is eventually transferred to a sanctuary.
Sadly, the orphan is most likely traumatized from the experience of seeing his mother killed and will be unable to be released back into the wild.Thankfully, one life has been directly saved from the year long investigation, but so many more have been indirectly saved, now that the smuggling ring has been shut down for good. Authorities were able to recover extensive documents and information which could lead to other arrests.
Hopefully this will be one large step towards slowing down and eliminating the destruction of the wild chimpanzee populations, so that future generations will still have access to these incredible animals.