In 1997, Portland veterinarian Dr. Sheri Speede made her first trip to Africa. Seeing the impact that the illegal bushmeat trade had on the local chimpanzee populations of Cameroon, she vowed that she would do something to help save the lives of the innocent primates affected.
And, she kept that vow, by founding IDA – Africa, a foundation dedicated to the safety and health of native great ape populations.
So, what is the bushmeat? It’s basically a synonym for wild game. Native hunters have been consuming wild animals for sustenance since prehistoric times, but as human populations have grown, many animal species have become endangered due to over-harvesting.
Compounding the problem is the fact that the meats of wild animals have become a coveted delicacy among wealthy city-dwellers as the animals themselves have become more scarce, and the meats of endangered species often command high prices on the black market. This commercial hunting, and exportation of wild animals has become known as the bushmeat trade.
The problem is not confined to the chimps’ native Cameroon, either. Bushmeat has become more common in major US cities, and customs officials estimate that the meat they confiscate is only a small part of the total amount imported into our country.
While primates account for a small percentage of the total volume of the bushmeat trade, the fact that they are large and easy to hunt makes them an attractive target for bushmeat poachers. Primate mothers are especially easy targets, as they must not only protect themselves, but their young, as well.
What happens to young primates orphaned by the bushmeat trade? They may be sold as pets or tourist attractions, or simply left to die in the wild without maternal care, unless they are fortunate enough to be adopted by IDA – Africa, and raised in the foundation’s Sanaga-Yong Rescue Center.
The center has rescued and cared for more than 100 great ape orphans, and currently cares for 73 chimps ranging in age from four months to forty years. It’s a noble cause, but it’s also a long-term and resource-intensive commitment, as chimps can live up to 60 years, and caring for them is not cheap.
Laughing Planet believes in IDA – Africa’s cause. Great apes will be threatened with extinction until the ape meat trade ends. That’s why we donate all of our proceeds from kid’s smoothie sales to IDA. If you’d like to help us support them, you can always stop by for a smoothie.
If you’d like to contribute on your own, you can sponsor an orphan via IDA’s website (click here), help with fundraising efforts, or make a purchase at IDA – Africa’s online store.
[Photo Credit: idausa]