Three chimpanzees were abducted from a reserve in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now their kidnappers want a ransom

“This is the first time in the world that baby monkeys have been kidnapped for ransom,” Franck Chantereau, founder of the sanctuary where the abduction took place, told CNN on Friday.

His sanctuary, known as Young Animals Forfeited in Katanga (abbreviated as JACK in French), is located in Lubumbashi, near the border between the DRC and Zambia, on an important route from Congo to the South. Africa, through which apes were smuggled to the rest of the world.

The kidnappers broke into the sanctuary around 3 a.m. on September 9, said Chantereau, and took away three of the five baby chimpanzees he has rescued so far this year – César, Hussein and Monga. He later found two other people hiding in the kitchen.

An hour into the break-in, Chantereau’s wife received three text messages and a video of the chimp being abducted from the kidnappers.

“They told us they were planning to kidnap my children because they were supposed to come here for a vacation. But they didn’t come so the kidnappers took these three babies hostage and demanded some money. big money from us,” Chantereau said.

The kidnappers claimed to have drugged the chimpanzees and threatened to hurt them if Chantereau did not pay the ransom.

“Obviously we can’t pay the ransom,” Chantereau said. “Not only do we have no money, but you need to understand that if we go their way they could very well do it again in two months, and we have no guarantee that they will return the baby either. for us.”

Chimpanzee smeared & # 39;  drugs & # 39;  together & # 39;  wound in a possible sympathy

Chantereau was also concerned that it would open the door to further kidnappings. “There are 23 sanctuaries across the continent that are doing this. If we pay the ransom, it could set a precedent and it could give ideas to others, so we have to be extremely vigilant. “, he said.

“We will not give in to this kind of request,” Michel Koyakpa, communications adviser to the DRC Environment Minister, told CNN on Friday.

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

Authorities are still investigating and trying to identify the kidnappers, hoping to find them in the coming days or weeks, according to Koyakpa.

The kidnapping was “the first of its kind in the history of the DRC,” he added.

However, this is not the first time that Chantereau’s sanctuary has been targeted. Months after its founding in 2006, a group of people broke into the night and set fire to the baby chimpanzee’s sleeping quarters, killing two of the five there at the time.

In September 2013, the reserve’s education center caught fire, but there were no casualties, according to Chantereau.

It’s been almost two weeks since Chantereau last received any proof from his captors that the chimpanzees were still alive, and he was worried.

Chimpanzees from two Czech zoos are Zooming in on each other every day

“We couldn’t go back to our daily lives, we were completely devastated,” he said.

But Chantereau said the abduction won’t shake his resolve to save his savior from the clutches of smugglers.

“To catch the young, they have to kill the whole family in the forest, usually eight to 10, and a lot of the baby monkeys will die before they reach their final destination,” says Chantereau.

According to Chantereau, many of the people who buy smuggled babies are wealthy people who want to keep exotic animals in their homes.

He said: “They do not understand the consequences of their actions because letting a small baby fall into their hands, at least 10 people died.

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

Chantereau is not hopeful about the future. “I know that unfortunately it (the kidnappings) is going to happen more and more often,” he said.

“All these animals are becoming rarer in the forest. We’re in the sanctuaries, we have the animals, they’re healthy. Obviously these people are much easier to attack us.”

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