The baby of three chimpanzees was kidnapped from a sanctuary in DR Congo. Now their kidnappers want ransom

“This is the first time in the world that baby apes were kidnapped for ransom,” Frank Chantero, the founder of the sanctuary where the kidnapping took place, told CNN on Friday.

Their sanctuary, called the Young Beast Confiscated in Katanga (abbreviated to Jack in French), is in Lubumbashi, close to the border between the DRC and Zambia, on an important route from Congo to South Africa, Through which the monkeys are smuggled for the rest. World.

The kidnappers broke into the sanctuary around 3 a.m. on September 9, Chantero said, and took three of the five chimpanzees rescued so far this year – Caesar, Hussein and Monga. Later he 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 abducted chimpanzee.

“They told us that they had planned to kidnap my children as they were about to come here on leave. But they did not come so the kidnappers took these three children hostage and demanded a huge ransom from us.”

The kidnappers claimed that they had given drugs to the chimpanzees and that Chantero threatened to hurt them if the ransom was not paid.

“Obviously, it is impossible for us to pay the ransom,” Chantero said. “Not only do we not have the money, but you need to understand that if we go their way, they can do it again in two months, and we also have no guarantee that they will deliver the baby.” Will return us.”

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Chantero was also concerned that this would open the way for 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 others ideas, so we should be extremely cautious,” he said.

“We will not succumb to such demands,” Michel Koyakpa, media adviser to the DRC’s environment minister, told CNN on Friday.

“(The kidnapping) is inhuman and unnatural,” Koyakpa said.

According to the Koyakpa, authorities are still investigating and trying to identify the kidnappers, so that they can be traced in the coming days or weeks.

The kidnapping is “the first of its kind in the history of the DRC”.

However, this is not the first time the sanctuary of Chantero has been targeted. Months after its founding in 2006, a group of people vandalized and set fire to a chimpanzee’s dormitory during the night, killing two of the five present at the time.

In September 2013, the sanctuary’s education center was set on fire, but there were no casualties, according to Chantero.

It’s now been almost two weeks since Chantero last got any evidence from the kidnappers that the chimpanzees were still alive, and he’s worried.

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“We can’t get back to our daily lives, we’re completely devastated,” he said.

But Chantero said the kidnapping would not shake his determination to save the chimpanzees from the clutches of smugglers.

“To catch the babies, they have to kill entire families in the wild, usually between 8 and 10 individual apes, and a lot of baby apes will die before they reach their final destination,” Chantero said.

According to Chantero, many of the buyers of trafficked children are wealthy people who want to keep exotic animals in their homes.

“They don’t understand the consequences of their actions because for having a small child in their hands, at least 10 have been killed,” he said.

It is also dangerous, as chimpanzees grow up quickly and an adult chimpanzee can kill an adult human with bare hands.

Chantero is not optimistic about the future. “I know unfortunately this (kidnapping) will happen more and more times,” he said.

“All these animals are becoming rarer in the wild. We have animals in sanctuaries, we have animals, they are healthy. It is clear that it is very easy for these people to attack us.”

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