The United Nations has designated March 3 as World Wildlife Day, described by the UN as “an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to people. At the same time, the Day reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, which has wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts.”
On World Wildlife Day, we ask that all of our supporters reflect on how wildlife crime is endangering our planet, and what you can do to help.
Through involvement with the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), people everywhere are helping JGI do its part in the fight against wildlife crime. Read on to see exactly what JGI is doing — with help from our partners and supporters — to curb the effect of wildlife crime in the Congo Basin.
Removing Lethal Snare-Traps from Uganda’s Forests
Snare traps are a cruel (and illegal) hunting method used by poachers to snare a variety of animals. These traps kill indiscriminately, and unfortunately many endangered animals, including chimpanzees, are maimed and killed by these horrific devices. In fact, at least 25 percent of chimpanzees living in Uganda are suffering from a snare-related injury.
To save the likely victims of these illegal traps, JGI has an established special snare removal program. Through this program, JGI employs community members to find and remove these traps from the forest. Often these people are former poachers themselves, who know best where to look for these traps. By employing community members in this way, JGI provides them with an alternative to illegal poaching in the form of saving the wildlife they once hunted.
Educating Local Communities About Wildlife Crime
‘Bushmeat’ is meat from wild animals that have been hunted in their natural habitat, and is widely sold at markets all over the Congo Basin. Unfortunately, the meat from endangered species, such as chimpanzees, can be found in these markets. Not only is killing great apes for meat killing off populations of these endangered primates, it is illegal.
To encourage people to stop hunting great apes, JGI’s billboard campaign brings awareness to areas where the bushmeat trade is especially active. These billboards are placed on roads to markets, and explain that it is illegal to violate wildlife protection laws, and those that do so risk prosecution. They also encourage people to consider endangered species like chimpanzees and gorillas as part of their national heritage. Something worth of protection. JGI also reaches out to the same audience via radio advertisements with a similar message.
Providing A Home For Confiscated Chimpanzees
It is illegal to keep a chimpanzee as a pet in the countries in which JGI works, but that doesn’t stop some poachers from selling young chimpanzees into the illegal exotic pet market. A problem faced by law enforcement officials when enforcing this law is what to do with a chimpanzee that is confiscated from a poacher, or someone who is keeping one as a pet.
This is why JGI set up our Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of the Congo, what has become the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in Africa. Tchimpounga not only supports enforcement of anti-poaching and illegal exotic pet laws by giving officials a place to take confiscated chimps. Tchimpounga also commits to the lifetime care of every chimpanzee brought to the sanctuary. Chimpanzees at Tchimpounga are nursed back to health and eventually join their peers and form life-long bonds with other chimpanzees in their group.
Providing Sustainable Livelihoods
Poaching is illegal and a serious wildlife crime, but often those who hunt for bushmeat are only doing so out of necessity, to feed their families. JGI helps address this issue by providing families in target areas with alternative, sustainable livelihood options.
These livelihoods include beekeeping, growing fruit trees and breeding livestock. Through these legal and more environmentally-friendly opportunities, people who were once forced to engage in wildlife crime activities can instead provide for their families and communities while easing the pressure on local wildlife.