When Jenny and Jim Desmond moved to Liberia in 2015 to oversee the care of 66 chimpanzees who had been abandoned by the New York Blood Center, forestry authorities brought them 19 young chimpanzees in need of parents and a home. Unlike the blood center chimps, who were fully grown and living somewhat independently, the majority of these chimps were newly orphaned by poachers who killed their mothers for bushmeat. Like human babies, these chimpanzees need around-the-clock care.
In order to provide adequate care for the orphans, the Desmonds hired a team of caregivers from the local village to serve as their surrogate mothers. But chimpanzee babies grow up quickly, and, by two or three years old, they have to be transitioned into a group of other chimps. In addition, they need far more space — space that they don’t have in the small home they inhabit in a densely populated village two hours outside of Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city.
Now, the Desmonds are tasked with the responsibility of moving all 19 chimps, including two adults, and their human caregivers into a forested area where they will build a sanctuary from the ground up. The sanctuary will have enclosed areas in the forest so that the chimps can live in a semi-wild environment by day; night time housing for the younger chimps; a clinic; a commissary for food preparation; isolation areas for new arrivals to prevent the spread of illnesses; housing for caregivers and volunteers; public areas for education and conservation programs; and administrative offices.
They’ve already created an entity, Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP), and leased a large tract of forested land on the Farmington River, just a few miles away from the islands where the blood center chimps are living. Now they need to raise funds to build.
The sanctuary has a second and equally important mission – to protect wild chimpanzees in their natural habitat. If government authorities have a place to bring chimpanzees who they confiscate from poachers, then poachers will have less of an incentive to capture baby chimps in order to sell them as pets. In the absence of a sanctuary, the authorities turn a blind eye to the trade in baby chimps because they have no place to bring them. Sanctuaries therefore play a critical role in the conservation of the species.
Please support the life-saving rescue and conservation work being conducted by Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection.