the three "r"s
From point of rescue, the primates in the care of the Zambia Primate Project are destined for a life back in the wild where they belong. Each step of their rehabilitation contributes to a successful release. These primates have often suffered greatly at the hands of due to human intervention. Most were orphaned as babies when their mothers were killed by poachers for bush meat. Too small to eat, these babies were then sold into the illegal pet trade and chained up in captivity by ropes tied around their waists, necks or wrists for many years before their rescue. These ropes are seldom loosened and become deeply embedded into their flesh as they grow, often resulting in a painful death.
Intervention of this intense animal cruelty is the focus of ZPP. If rescued in time, these primates are given the second chance for life in the wild that they deserve.
ZPP have rescued over 810 vervet monkeys and baboons since 2002, from the illegal exotic pet trade in Zambia and those injured or orphaned through human intervention. This includes illegal snaring by poachers for bush meat and the persecution and stoning of primates in local communities where they are often perceived as pests.
The primates are rescued by the ZPP team from hotspot areas across Zambia, in collaboration with officers from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) and the Zambia Police, following intelligence received from a national network of local informers and concerned members of the public. Some of the primates rescued are given up willingly, whilst others are hostile confiscations. Cosmas and his team have to conduct themselves very carefully and with full law enforcement support to ensure not only the safety of the primate in question, but also for themselves.
In Zambia it is illegal to kill, eat, buy, sell or keep primates as pets. People found engaging in any illegal activity involving primates can be arrested and prosecuted.
Once safely rescued, each primate is transported to Lusaka and attended to by a wildlife vet who conducts full health examinations, carefully removes abrasive and tight restraints and tends to their wounds and injuries.
After their initial medical care, the primates are placed into quarantine at the Primate Transit Home, Kafue National Park, to ensure they are free from any transmissible diseases that could be passed on to the release troop. During this time the Primate Handlers monitor them very closely and support their physical recovery back to health with appropriate nutrition and safe, comfortable enclosures. Once this phase has completed, they are able to begin an intensive period of rehabilitation and integration to help them create a new surrogate family and prepare them for their life back in the wild.
Rehabilitating a traumatised primate involves a great deal of patience as they are slowly integrated with other rescued individuals to create tight social groups. A nutritious diet is a key part of their recovery. Initially weak and frightened young primates are provided regularly with food enabling them to gain strength and build trust in their new environment. However, once their health has improved, their food is scattered around the enclosures to encourage and promote natural foraging behaviours which will be critical for life back in the wild.
This is a common challenge faced in wildlife rehabilitation, where animals whose survival from rescue depends on the support of their human care givers, must then become fully weaned from their human dependency and familiarity in order to survive back in the wild where they truly belong. To facilitate this process ZPP has a strict no non-essential handling policy. Once the primates are in the reintegration phase the Primate Handlers provide essential husbandry and nutritional support but minimise time with or near the primates to help reduce association. Due to the need to minimise human impact on the primates ZPP does not offer any public visitation opportunities to the Primate Transit Home.
Once ready, all rescued monkeys and baboons are released back to the wild as part of a family troop with other rescued primates at carefully selected release sites in Kafue National Park. The release protocol follows IUCN re-introduction guidelines, further enhanced by ZPP’s many years of practical experience on the ground in conducting primate releases.
The release process utilised is known as a ‘soft release’, which means the release is a gradual process and these troops are supported and monitored for 12 months after initial release. This is provided by the Primate Handlers and DNPW officers who walk in the bush following the troop to maintain daily visual contact. Their role also includes predator avoidance training for snakes, bird of prey and leopards, along with providing supplementary food until the primates have adapted fully to their new life and can demonstrate their abilities to find resources, feed themselves, socialise and display appropriate predator awareness and safety behaviours.
The survival rate of the primates released currently averages between 85 and 100% at 12 months post release, making ZPP one of, if not the, most successful primate release projects in the world.
donate today to support rescued primates
GIVE A BABY MONKEY A SNUGGLE - SOFT TOY, BLANKET OR HOT WATER BOTTLE
FEED A PRIMATE SPECIALISED FORMULA FOR A WEEK
FEED A MILK WEANED MONKEY FOR A MONTH
PROVIDE AN ESSENTIAL VETERINARY HEALTH CHECK AT POINT OF RESCUE
ENSURE PRIMATE ENRICHMENT THROUGHOUT REHABILITATION WITH PRIMATE SWINGS AND FOOD FORAGING BOXES
IMPLEMENT A VHF RADIO COLLAR FOR TRACKING, SECURITY AND SUPPORT TO A PRIMATE AT POINT OF RELEASE
FEED A TROOP OF TWELVE BABOONS FOR A MONTH