At the end of October, LAGA (Last Great Ape Organisation in Cameroon) managed to track down an ape dealer who regularly orders apes from hunters and sells them in towns. He was arrested trying to sell a baby chimp in a sack in the Eastern Province of Cameroon. Felix, a promising new recruit of the legal unit has had his baptism with this first operation he had to fight for. He was joined by Julius, head of operations unit in the morning of the operation and the arrest went smoothly as planned.
The problems started when we realized the dealer is well known to the authorities as they tried to help him and sabotage the legal process.
After a lot of fighting from Felix we managed to fight corruption and put the writing of the complaint report back on track. Only when Felix and Julius managed to ensure the dealer was locked away could they focus on the health of the baby chimp.
Felix was heart broken, this was the first time he held a chimpanzee and realizing the chimp was very sick he called Ofir at headquarters, alarmed, saying that although he may not have experience with chimps he knew this chimp was terribly wounded. Ofir underestimated the problem and later realized that the wounds on the chimp were not the common wound on the waist caused by ropes – the chimp was in fact burnt – her capturers poured boiled water on her.
Felix tried to feed her and insisted on getting her to a vet, but the authorities took their time. In between caring for the little chimp, Felix had to ensure that the dealers were not released, and ensured in a two hour meeting with the state attorney that the dealer should not be granted bail.
Felix won the fight of getting the dealer into jail, but lost the first chimp he knew.
When the baby chimp arrived to Dr. Sheri Speede’s chimpanzee shelter – the Sanaga Yong Sanctuary, it was too late. The baby chimp died a few days later as a result of the infection caused by the open burns.
We are all shocked by the extent of cruelty taken against the baby chimp that could have outlived any of us. Vincent and Eric of the media team prepared radio newsflashes explaining the cruelty. They continue to get the message through TV and written press.
Felix will continue to fight for justice for animals and people.
UPDATE: 14th NOVEMBER 2008
Felix travelled for 8 hours on dirt roads to the east to fight again in the second court hearing.
He called Ofir last night to say the second court hearing passed well.
His work discussing with the prosecutor on fighting against any release on bail paid off.
The hearing passed as we wanted without opening the debate insuring another month of jail time to the dealer before the next hearing. Felix is staying to make a jail visit and ensure the dealer didn’t bribe the jail wardens to release him as is often happening.
For more information please do not hesitate to visit our website at http://www.laga-enforcement.org/ .