We would like to wish a very happy birthday to Siala, who turned 6 years old this month! Siala was born in March 2008 at the CCC. Her mom, Lola, is an orphan chimpanzee who Estelle (the CCC Director) rescued from the illegal pet trade in 1996.
Siala’s birth was a complete surprise to us, as every mature female at the CCC is on contraception. We have a no breeding policy while females are still in captivity because we want to ensure that we have room for new orphan chimpanzees. But as we found out, contraception doesn’t always work! Lola was supposed to be released in June 2008 with the first group, but we didn’t want to put Siala’s young life at risk. A release is a stressful event and we feared that it would prevent Lola from lactating. So Siala safely spent the first three years of her life at the CCC and grew up with a very strong personality!
Lola and Siala were released in August 2011 with Annie and were integrated with the first released group. Lola was reunited with her friends Albert, Robert, Lottie, Mama and Nanou, her best friend. During their first year of freedom, Lola and Siala spent most of their time together in a nice part of the forest in the core release area. More recently, they have been spending a lot of time in a valley a few kilometers west of the release site, an area well known for its wild chimpanzee population. Last April 2013, we spotted Lola and Siala while searching for Annie, and noticed that there were a wild male and female with them.
Siala symbolizes hope; despite being born in captivity, she was raised by her mother and showed little interest in humans. She represents the second generation of our release group, which is key to the release program’s success. We wish Siala a very happy and long life in the forest, and hope that one day she will become a mother to a first generation of wild born chimpanzees. Our teams continue to watch over her and her friends from a distance!
Lily and Ama, two females in our youngsters group, are being integrated with our slightly older group, the teenagers. When chimpanzees begin to mature, it is important to offer them as natural of a social environment as possible. Pubescent females naturally seek out new males outside of their group, so in captivity it can be beneficial to change their social groups.
Thus far, the integration has been a success. At the moment, the ladies are spending the majority of their time with Oga (the dominant male), Wodo, and Habou. Oga and Lily have been grooming each other frequently, and Ama and Habou love to play together. The teenagers remain in the cages during the integration so that we can monitor them.
On February 25, 2014, Estelle Raballand will be giving a lunchtime presentation to the US Fish and Wildlife and Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group on The Role of the NGO Centre de Conservation pour Chimpanzés in the Protection of the Haut Niger National Park in Guinea.
Every dry season, wildfires arrive in waves around the CCC. They are often lit by poachers who use them to drive game out of the forest and into the open.
The CCC is located in the heart of Haut-Niger National Park, which is one of the last protected environments in West Africa that is made up of both savannah and dry forest. During the dry season (December – April), all of the vegetation is very dry and the days are very hot, especially with The Harmattan, a dry and dusty wind that descends from the Sahara into West Africa. These conditions make it very easy for fires to spread rapidly.
Every year in December and January, we implement controlled burns around the sanctuary and each chimpanzee enclosure in order to create protective firewalls. If a fire does reach the CCC, these wide strips of pre-burned vegetation give the team time to fight the fires. There are two methods for fighting these fires : hitting the burning vegetation with branches, or lighitng another fire from a road. When the two fires meet, they naturally extinguish.
This period is always very stressful because our team has to be constantly on the alert for signs of an approaching wildfire, which we often identify by the sound of crackling flames in the distance. The most dangerous situation is when a fire occurs during the day, at the height of the heat. The heat generated by the fire is extreme and can be very dangerous.
Last week, a large wildfire approached the CCC from the southwest, but the team managed to successfully stop it and create a firewall around the camp. A small piece of forest in the southwest has been preserved from the flames, and all of the chimpanzees and team members are doing well!
One of the ways we can tell that the chimpanzees in our juvenile group are growing up is that, like human teenagers, they are starting to be interested in the opposite sex. A few weeks ago, we noticed that Lily and Flo were both pursuing Hakim, one of the males in our juvenile group. Ama has now joined the fray, and all three ladies are also interested in Panza, the dominant male of the group. Panza and Hakim don’t know which way to turn!
Chimpanzees live in multi-male/multi-female groups, and when females are in heat, they try to mate with as many males as possible, which means that the dominant male is not the only one to get attention from the ladies. However, they do have to be discreet when they want to mate with other males.
Note: all of the CCC’s female chimpanzees are on birth control until they are released.
We are looking for two volunteers to come and help us Chimpanzee Conservation Centre as soon as possible. The positions are available before mid-March.
Volunteers help the team of local trainers in all tasks: supervising a group of young chimpanzees on daily excursions in the bush, enrichment for other groups of chimpanzees, maintaining our camp, and monitoring our released group of chimpanzees.
We are looking for motivated people who can work as part of a team in the middle of nowhere, and are able to take initiative. Excellent physical and mental health are essential, as well as an advanced level of French.
Animal experience is a plus, as well as previous travel and/or experience living in Africa.
If you are interested in applying, please send a resume, cover letter and two references to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to your generosity, we were able to purchase the remaining materials to finish the roof of the teenagers’ and juveniles’ cages. We will finish the one for the adult group in the coming days.
You can read our appeal here.
We sincerely thank all the generous donors who responded so quickly to our appeal! Thanks to you, the chimpanzees will be well protected during the next rainy season!
Habou, the lowest ranking male of the teenagers group, had a growth on the side of his nose in December that worried us a lot. We treated him for a dental abscess for almost a month. He finished his treatment 10 days ago and the growth has almost completely disappeared. We will keep you posted but for now he is back to his old self (mischievous with staff but lover boy with female chimps especially with Veve who loves him!).
Thanks to the Guinean government, we are renovating all the chimpanzees cages’ roofs.
The metal framework is almost completely welded on the cages. We now have to buy the tin-roofs to cover it and finish all the renovation before the beginning of the rainy season, but we are lacking the necessary funds.
Help us to finish the work before June! We need $500…
You can make a donation here