Over the past couple of weeks I have been engaged in relocating a couple of juvenile chimps from the grounds of the Hotel Club du Lac, located on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, to a small ‘living museum‘ in the capital of Bujumbura. This has not been easy. Chimps are very intelligent, very strong, and just love to play games with their ‘keepers’ – for hours!
Here is the crew that helped move them – everyone got a free beer afterwards! It was a lot of work and more on that in another entry.
Dragon and Tina are about 3 years old, and have lived at the Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika for the last several years, after having been rescued from an illegal animal exporter. At that time, the country was still deep in conflict and the safest place for them was at the Hotel, where I have been in charge of their wellbeing. Not an activity I ever wildly dreamed would be on my plate, but there you are – living in Africa brings new and different challenges just about every day.
There are no chimps left in Burundi – these two probably were trafficked over from the eastern Congo. And, there are no animal rehabilitation activities left in the country because of the war and so the Hotel was the best choice at the time. However, they have just grown too big to continue living at the Hotel – they regularly escape their cage and ‘play’ around the pool and grounds, much to the delight of guests until they steal a camera or other item… They also like to steal Amstel beer, climbing quickly up a tree, and drinking it up. Not a very good idea, really.
Dragon (above) is a little frightened in the new cage, and in the picture is ‘asking’ me to be picked up – but he’s now getting a little heavy for that!
We hope eventually to move them to a chimp rehabilitation site in the Congo, but that will take a little while and in the meantime, they will be living at the Musée Vivant, where I continue to oversee their feeding and care.
Several months ago I moved a juvenile crocodile to the Musée Vivant, about 120+ kilos and a pretty big fellow! It took 5 men to strap him down and get him into the pickup. He’s doing fine (our staff looking at the crock):
But there is very little wildlife left in the country – the last elephant was seen about 20 years ago out on an island in the Rusizi river, trying to get back to the Congo where his herd probably had returned. There are some dikdik and other small animals, though, and also civet cats and the occasional leopard. This is a semi-tame leopard, that has just been brought for care by its owner. It was captured as a baby in the E. Congo:
I live quite close to the Rusizi River and Wetlands, along the Congo border, and here we have many snakes, huge monitor lizards, and very huge hippos and crocodiles – as well as a variety of birds, most of which are migrating on the N-S route. It is a bird-lover’s – and hippo-lover’s – paradise: