The advanced team that left on the 20th of November to embark on the Afrika Expedition Force to locate the four chimpanzees, have located their first chimp Claude. Claude was located in Bangui Zoo, on the second day of the expedition.
The advance team departed 10 days before the second team arrives in a race against time to find the four chimps and bring them safely to a central point in Bangui, where they will perform essential blood tests for Simian AIDS and other diseases.
“We went to see Claude (one of the four chimps earmarked for relocation) at what remains of Bangui Zoo today. He seems to be in a good condition, but was absolutely starved for contact and attention. He started grooming us, one by one, and I almost felt sad that I didn’t have any tics to share with him. He is quite a curious guy, and loves to fiddle with pockets and buttons,“ says Jaco Botha team leader of the advanced team.
“When the advanced team had to leave it was a sad moment, leaving Claude behind, on his own in that cage in the forest. Hopefully we will be able to take him back to South Africa this time.”
It will be a race against time to complete all blood tests and paperwork before the second team arrives. The time pressure is crucial, because the chimps can’t travel unless they are cleared of important diseases. The whole mission is at stake: unless the team gets clearance for the chimps, they may be left behind for a second time.
The relocation of the chimps involves a massive amount of permits and security clearance documentation; the coordination of transport, logistics and personnel; as well as the cooperation between NGOs, corporate sponsors, various African governments and one of the world’s
foremost adventurers to accomplish all of the mission’s goals in less than a week’s time.
On Monday, 29 November 2010 a second backup team lead by Chris Thorpe (United Against Malaria) and David Devo Oosthuizen (Jane Goodall Institute SA), Sean Staley from Gabriel and other eco-warriors will depart and meet up with the advance team, the four chimpanzees and Kingsley Holgate in Bangui.
“We will deliver fresh supplies to the UAM Team and the Peacekeeping Troops, drop off a new crew and pick up the advance team and relocated chimpanzees. Ross Holgate and two volunteers will also collect Kingsley’s Land Rover and deliver it back to Ghana,” said Staley.