Urgent pan-Africa action plan launched by PASA to stop illegal chimpanzee trade as sanctuaries reach crisis capacity

PASA launches “Action for Chimpanzees” to counter trafficking in West Africa through international collaboration.

The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA)—the largest alliance of wildlife centers in Africa—has announced the launch of Action for Chimpanzees (AFC), a program to curtail the illicit trade of western chimpanzees for bushmeat and the pet trade, and prevent their impending extinction. By forging collaboration in West Africa and worldwide, AFC combines policy with direct action on a regional scale. The AFC was launched at the opening of the Conference on Western Chimpanzee Trafficking being held in Conakry, Guinea, at which government agencies; chimpanzee and wildlife sanctuaries; NGOs from Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone; and other international stakeholders gathered to create a road map for producing concrete actions to address this issue.

“The illegal wildlife trade is a critical threat to primates in Africa,” said Gregg Tully, PASA Executive Director. “Our member sanctuaries are close to capacity, bringing the situation to a crisis point. We need to use every tool available, including policy and coordinated action on the ground—and that is what Action for Chimpanzees will do.”

Action for Chimpanzees is a broad coalition of PASA and partner organizations, including Akatia, the Chimpanzee Conservation Center, Fondation Brigitte Bardot, Humane Society International, the Jane Goodall Institute, Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection, Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA BiCC) Program, and WARA Guinea.

“The illegal wildlife trade for bushmeat and the pet industry is not only a critical threat to our closest living relatives, it is also the source of huge risks for human health at the local and global levels,” said Patrick van Veen, of the Jane Goodall Institute Global. “The awareness and close collaboration of local people, authorities and consumers is fundamental to stop this crisis of unprecedented scale before is too late for all”

The impetus for AFC is the urgent need to reduce trafficking of western chimpanzees, because sanctuaries have seen a significant increase in confiscations in recent years and are close to capacity. While the ultimate goal must be to stop the illegal capture and trade of West African Chimpanzees, the lack of sanctuaries with adequate space to accept confiscated chimps is a key component of wildlife law enforcement that is missing.

“Across Africa, chimpanzees are under threat like never before. It is no exaggeration to say that unless urgent action is taken, our closest genetic cousins could be trafficked into extinction,” said Morris Darbo, Director of Humane Society International/Liberia, which cares for 66 ex-laboratory chimpanzees, some of whom were wild-caught.

Fast Facts: 

  • There are fewer than 300,000 chimps left in the wild.
  • Wild chimpanzees are already extinct in four of their former African-range countries
  • Chimp populations continue to decline in the remaining 21 African nations in which they survive. Only 10 of these nations have chimpanzee populations exceeding 1,000.
  • Chimps and other primates are killed for bushmeat, a delicacy in many parts of Central and West Africa. The mothers are killed and their babies are sold as pets.

Created in 2000, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) is the largest association of wildlife centers and sanctuaries in Africa, consisting of 23 organizations in 13 countries. Each Alliance member is securing the future for Africa’s primates by rescuing and caring for orphaned and abused apes and monkeys, protecting endangered primates from extinction, working to stop the hunting of endangered species and the cruel primate pet trade, educating the public, and empowering communities. PASA International unifies the Alliance and advocates for them on an international scale, provides vital support, and works closely with them to raise awareness globally about threats to wildlife.

Chimpanzee West Africa Action for Chimpanzees

Tita was rescued from the pet trade and is learning how to be wild at PASA member sanctuary Chimpanzee Conservation Center in Guinea.

Wild chimpanzees are already extinct in four of their former African-range countries – so Action for Chimpanzees is urgently needed.