“This is the first time in the world that baby monkeys were kidnapped for ransom,” Frank Chantero, who founded the sanctuary, told CNN on Friday.
Its sanctuary, known as Young Animal Confiscation in Katanga (abbreviated as JACK in French), is in Lubumbashi, near the border between DRC and Zambia, on the main route from Congo to South Africa through Monkeys are smuggled into the remaining areas. World
Chanterio said abductors entered the sanctuary around 3 a.m. on September 9 and took three of the five chimpanzees he had rescued so far this year – Cesar, Hussain and Monga. He later found the other two hiding in the kitchen.
An hour after the break-in, Chantero’s wife received three messages from the kidnappers and a video of the kidnapped chimps.
“They told us that they had planned to kidnap my children because they were supposed to be here on vacation. But they didn’t come, so the kidnappers took the three children hostage and demanded a huge ransom from us. .
The kidnappers claimed to have drugged the chimps and threatened to harm Chantero if they did not pay the ransom.
“Obviously, it’s impossible for us to pay the ransom,” Chantero said. “Not only do we not have the money, but you have to understand that if we go their way, they could very well do it in two months, and we have none of that.” There is no guarantee that they will return the child to us.”
Chantero also feared that this would open the door to more kidnappings. “There are 23 sanctuaries across the continent doing this. If we pay the ransom, it can set an example and it can give ideas to others, so we have to be very vigilant,” he said.
“We will not accept this kind of demand,” media adviser to the DRC’s environment minister, Michael Quikpa, told CNN on Friday.
“(Kidnapping) is inhumane and unnatural,” Quiacpa said.
According to Quickpa, authorities are still investigating and trying to identify the kidnappers, hoping to find them in the coming days or weeks.
He added that the kidnapping was “the first of its kind in the history of the DRC.”
However, this is not the first time Chanterio’s sanctuary has been targeted. A few months after its founding in 2006, a group of people snuck in at night and set fire to the baby chimp’s sleeping quarters, killing two of the five children there at the time.
According to Chantero, the sanctuary’s education center was set on fire in September 2013, but no one was injured.
It’s been almost two weeks since Chantereau last received any evidence from her captors that the chimpanzees are still alive, and she’s worried.
“We cannot go back to our daily lives, we are completely devastated,” he said.
But Chantero said the abduction would not shake his determination to save the baby chimps from the clutches of traffickers.
“To capture the babies, they have to kill the whole family in the wild, usually between 8 and 10 individual monkeys, and many of the baby monkeys will die before they reach their final destination,” Chantero said. said
According to Chantero, many of the buyers of trafficked babies are wealthy people who want to keep exotic animals in their homes.
“They don’t understand the consequences of their actions because for a small child in their hands, at least 10 have been killed,” he said.
It is also dangerous, as chimpanzees grow quickly and an adult chimpanzee can kill an adult human with its bare hands.
Chantero is not optimistic about the future. “I know that unfortunately it (kidnapping) will continue to happen more and more,” he said.
“All these animals are becoming rare in the wild. In the sanctuaries, we have animals, they are healthy. It is clear that it is very easy for these people to attack us.