History of the Centre de Conservation pour Chimpanzés
Janis Carter founded the Chimpanzee Conservation Center (CCC) in 1997 with funding from the European Union in collaboration with activities occurring within the Haut Niger National Park.
During its establishment, the CCC was working to:
- Create a sanctuary at Somoria for the Bissikrima chimpanzee orphans (rescued by Veterinarians Without Borders), Conakry chimpanzee orphans rescued by Estelle Raballand as well as a few individual chimpanzee orphans
- Develop an education program for the villages of the Haut Niger National Park to raise awareness of the decline in chimpanzee populations.
- Conduct a national census of wild chimpanzees (completed by Rebecca Ham)
Janis Carter planned to release chimpanzees after 2-3 years of rehabilitation at Somoria.
Construction of the CCC began in 1997 which consisted of building Somoria shelters and the current enclosures for the ‘small’ and ‘big’ groups of chimpanzees. During the summer of 1997 Estelle Raballand transferred the Conakry chimpanzees in her care to Somoria (Robert, John, Orlando, Albert, Bobo, Lola, and Nano) and left Guinea for the United States.
At the beginning of 1999, financing from the European Union for the CCC ended. Janis turned the project to the Waters and Forests project (DNEF), which proved to be incapable for caring for the chimpanzees. The Minister of Agriculture (who governs DNEF) requested the assistance of Estelle Raballand who was in Cameroon working with Sheri Speede to create the Sanaga Chimpanzee Sanctuary. In May 1999, Estelle resumed project management for the CCC. By June 1999, Estelle sent Laurence Vidal (a volunteer veterinarian) to Sanaga to open a bank account, and bring money to the animal caretakers. Laurence remained in Guinea for one month. In September 1999 Estelle arrived in Guinea with Cedric Malebous, the first volunteer of the CCC. The early days of the CCC were quite challenging, however Estelle managed to secure $8,000 to run the CCC for several months.
CCC objectives during the early years were to:
- Improve the lives of chimpanzees by building enclosures
- Improve the infrastructure by constructing a food room, veterinary room, and a camp for volunteers
- Release the chimpanzees after several years of rehabilitation
- Bring in volunteers to help on site
By June 27, 2008, after many years of hard work, Estelle and her team release 12 chimpanzees in the Haut Niger National Park!
Since June 2015 there is a new director: Christelle Colin who was one of the first managers