Against all odds —
Heart, passion, courage, Rachel Hogan and her staff at Ape Action Africa are running Mefou Primate Park south of Yaoundé Cameroon against all odds — and for over 110 chimpanzees and 20 Western lowland gorillas beating the odds is their only insurance of a future.
I just spent the last few days at Mefou and between the work Ape Action Africa is doing there and what I saw the week before at Limbe Wildlife Center, I am shifting my whole thinking about these orphanages for victims of the bushmeat poaching wildlife trade. A quote by deputy director Larry Taylor at Mefou has been ringing in my ears since he uttered the words — “they leave them here and we have to take care of them for the next 55 years”. I walked away thinking we need to start considering these places and conservation in a new light. They are truly refugee camps – full stop. Filled with individuals that will never ever go home. This is their new home. That is a reality shift they not only have to make to survive, but we too have to make. There is no wild in their future. For these refugees their wild was stripped from them when the bullet left the gun. Likewise there is no wild in ours. We are destroying that concept with every kilometer of rainforest we destroy — regardless the reason or justification.
The past few weeks is also making me re-evaluate the role both large conservation organizations and zoos play in the lives of these refugees and the withering wilds.
Reality is truly a bitter pill to swallow sometimes, but until we do we are living in a fairyland sprinkled with pixie-dust of hope… these hundreds of chimps and gorillas — and the number is only going to climb steeply — can not eat pixie-dust. Their future has been sealed by that flying bullet, the chainsaw, and the bulldozer that took tore families apart and destroyed homes. Now it’s up to us to face reality and accept responsibility of the lives in our care.