When chimpanzee rescuer Jenny Desmond heard that exotic pet traffickers were attempting to sell a baby in Monrovia (the capital of Liberia), she swung into action, working with local wildlife authorities to both rescue the chimp and capture the perpetrator. Desmond, who runs Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection (LCRP) with her husband Jim, set up a sting operation to lure the trafficker onto her property; document him asking for money; and have him arrested by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), the government agency that enforces Liberia’s wildlife laws. Desmond captured the sting on camera:
The trafficker, who appeared to be in his 20s, told Ms. Desmond and the FDA official that he purchased the chimp from hunters. In Liberia, as in other African countries with a wild chimpanzee population, poachers kill adult chimps for bushmeat and sell their babies as exotic pets.
Jenny Desmond of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection comforts Ella, a baby chimp who is clinging on to the exotic pet trafficker who was attempting to sell her.
Before the Desmonds created a chimpanzee sanctuary, Liberian officials turned a blind eye to the sale of baby chimps because they didn’t have a place to bring them following a confiscation. The lack of enforcement has, until now, enabled the exotic pet trade to flourish. While the Desmonds continue to receive confiscated chimps, they anticipate that the numbers will dwindle over time as poachers and traffickers come to the realization that authorities are confiscating animals and prosecuting the crimes.
Two of the approximately 20 chimps rescued by Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection after being held captive
Since arriving in Liberia in 2015, the Desmonds have rescued over 20 chimps, all of whom are being housed in a makeshift sanctuary. In December, 2017, they leased a 100 acre tract of forested land on the local river where they plan to build a proper sanctuary from the ground up. The sanctuary, LCRP, 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.
After being confiscated by wildlife authorities, Ella, a victim of the exotic pet trade whose mother was killed by poachers, finds peace and happiness at Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP)