Tuesday, January 31, 2017

BBC News - The secret trade in baby chimps

A two-month old chimp, held captive by smugglersBBC News - The secret trade in baby chimps A secret network of wildlife traffickers selling baby chimpanzees has been exposed by a year-long BBC News investigation. The tiny animals are seized from the wild and sold as pets. The BBC’s research uncovered a notorious West African hub for wildlife trafficking, known as the “blue room”, and led to the rescue of a one-year-old chimp. In a dusty back street of Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s largest city, a tiny chimpanzee cries out for comfort. His black hair is ruffled and his dirty nappy scrapes the concrete floor as he crawls towards the familiar figures of the men who have been holding him captive.

The baby chimp, ripped away from his family in the wild, is the victim of a lucrative and brutal smuggling operation, exposed by a 12-month-long BBC News investigation spanning half a dozen countries. In demand as pets in wealthy homes or as performers in commercial zoos, baby chimpanzees command a price tag of $12,500, a little under £10,000, but sometimes more. Each capture of a live infant like this one exacts a terrible cost on chimp populations. The usual tactic used by poachers is to shoot as many of the adults in a family as possible. This prevents them from resisting the capture of the baby and their bodies can then be sold as bushmeat. To obtain one infant alive, up to 10 adults are typically slaughtered.

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