Established in 1992, the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Centre (TCRC) provides sanctuary for chimpanzee orphans, all victims of either the illegal, but widespread, bushmeat or pet animal trades.
Over 190 chimps have called Tchimpounga home over the years. Today the carers look after over 160 orphans. As you can imagine this has put a lot of strain on a site that was originally intended to care for 40-50 chimpanzees.
An answer to this problem however has been found and in 2011 the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) successfully negotiated with the government of Congo for expansion to three islands located in the Kouilou River, where JGI will be able to relocate around 120 chimpanzees currently living at the sanctuary. There, the chimps will live in a more natural habitat and Tchimpounga’s overcrowding will be reduced. So far 57 of the strongest most prepared chimpanzees have been relocated to Tchindzoulou, Ngombe and Tchibebe Islands.
Life has changed dramatically for the chimps who are on the island. Now they can roam freely, feeling the wet earth under their feet, smelling the scents from the lush vegetation, and listening to the island’s mysterious sounds while they explore their new surroundings.
TCRC is not only a safe place for the chimps it is a centre that supports educational outreach and a resource for efforts to train and support Congolese government officials engaged in protecting wild chimpanzees.
Watch this video of Jane releasing chimpanzee Wounda on Tchindzoulou Island. This was the first time Jane had met Wounda, so her reaction is even more amazing. Jane said it was one of the most moving experiences of her life.