2012 was an important year for orphaned gorilla Afangui and for primate protection law enforcement in Equatorial Guinea. The female infant was being kept alone in a crate, on display to 'entertain' customers of a beach restaurant popular with expats. Though the hunting, sale, consumption and possession of all primate species had been illegal in Equatorial Guinea since 2007, the law had not been enforced and trade in endangered species was overt. After reports about Afangui from the general public, the government decided to make an example of her case and carry out a high-profile confiscation to discourage others from buying baby apes and monkeys.

Afangui was kept alone in a crate on display at a beach restaurant in Equatorial Guinea.

Photo courtesy of Juliet Wright

In front of national press and customers of the restaurant, Afangui's confiscation was successfully carried out by the Ministry of Fisheries and Environment. This was an important conservation achievement, but Equatorial Guinea had no suitable facilities to provide Afangui with a new home. 

The day of Afangui's confiscation. Photo courtesy of Juliet Wright

Ape Action Africa agreed to help and after a 12-hour journey, Afangui arrived at our sanctuary, finding safety and a second chance at life in the forest with members of her own species. The young orphan completed her quarantine in the care of our team and then began meeting her new gorilla family, fellow orphans Luci and Chickaboo. Afangui settled well into her new home and enjoyed spending her days exploring the forest, climbing in the trees and playing with our two other young gorilla girls.

Afangui snacking whilst up in the trees. Photo courtesy of Marlene Haggblade

Tragically, our time with Afangui was cut short when she became critically ill in 2013. Our Director, Rachel Hogan, cancelled a fundraising marathon back in the UK to stay in the forest and care for Afangui, but she sadly lost her fight for life in September of that year.

Afangui was a gentle and loving individual. Like all of our rescued orphans she had suffered horrific trauma seeing her family killed and being taken from the wild. She then had to endure life in a crate, isolated from members of her species and used for profit. We're grateful that she got to spend the last year of her life with us and other gorillas. She touched the hearts of everyone who had the privilege of knowing her at Ape Action Africa and her story turned into a catalyst for a government-initiated awareness raising campaign around mainland Equatorial Guinea. 

Afangui in the forest. Photo courtesy of Ruth Mertens

Gorillas, chimpanzees and monkeys are highly intelligent, complex, social beings. They are not here to entertain humans. They are not pets. They are not photo props. They are not food. 

Many thanks to everyone who was involved in Afangui's confiscation and to everyone who contributed to her care at Ape Action Africa. Thank you also to all of our allies who help us provide sanctuary to over 280 rescued primates and who also help to raise awareness of the threats these critically endangered species face. We couldn't do what we do without you and we are hugely grateful to everyone who has played their part in supporting our work over the last 25 years.  

Banner image courtesy of Juliet Wright

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