The chimpanzees (Chimpu and Champa) caught in the process of smuggling will now be available for the general public at the Central Zoo in Jawalakhel. The zoo’s managing body, the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), has shifted Chimpu and Champa (sister and brother) in an AC-installed house within the premises of the zoo on Friday.
Secretary at the Ministry of Forest and Environment, Prem Narayan Kandel and Member Secretary of the Trust, Sharad Chandra Adhikari inaugurated the newly built house on Friday. The chimpanzee house was constructed at a cost of around Rs 10 million. With the construction of a well-equipped house, visitors arriving at the zoo will now be able to easily observe the human like animals.
The two chimpanzee babies arrived in Nepal as a transit point while they were being trafficked all the way from Nigeria to India. After their rescue the animals were handed to the Central Zoo authority. They were rescued by the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) on 17 October 2017 and brought to the Central Zoo. The baby chimpanzee, which is in a very miserable condition, has been safely protected in the nursery of Zoo.
The chimpanzee is considered as vulnerable wild life and protected under CITES. Itis illegal to transport, sale or purchase them dead or alive as per the international law. According to zoo information officer Lina Chalise, when the chimpanzee arrived at the zoo, the male was approximately 3 months old (weighing 3.5 kg) and the female was approximately 6 months old (weighing 4 kg). At present the male weighs 21 kg. And the female weighs 24 kg. The zoo feeds them seasonal fruits, vegetables, milk, bread, honey, etc.
According to Chalise, they have been kept in public view so that they can be seen by the people. The zoo staff was assigned to take care of Chimpu and Champa. Chimpanzees are not a wild animal found in Nepal.
The chimpanzee, found in the Savannah region of Central Africa, was rescued by the CIB on 17 October 2017 while being smuggled from the jungles of Nigeria to India via Nepal. At that time, the chimpanzees that had been brought hidden in the luggage compartment and were sick .
At that time, along with chimpanzees, various species of birds and monkeys were also brought. Mohammed Faim, Mohammed Usman, Chand Mohammed and Javed Aslam Khan, both Pakistani nationals arrested on wildlife smuggling charges, were sentenced by the Kathmandu District Court to five years in prison in the mid-September 2019. Bhari, who owns a house, was sentenced to two years and six months in prison for helping the smuggler keep his belongings. Some were acquitted in more than a dozen cases involving customs officials, while three were released on bail.
The government has assured that Chimpu and Champa would be returned to the country of origin under the CITES Convention if it received a proof . However, due to insufficient evidence and no claim, they were kept in Nepal. The Trust also conducted DNA tests on both chimpanzees. The source of chimpanzees, said to be from Nigeria, is unknown. Some time ago, a private organization claimed that it was being kept in Nepal due to insufficient evidence during DNA testing.
As a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), chimpanzees can be repatriated at the expense of any government body that gathers sufficient evidence to cover the cost. CITES has restricted the movement of the species.
The zoo has launched a wildlife protecting campaign in view of the financial crisis caused by the global epidemic of Covid-19. Meanwhile, Prabhushamsher JB Rana and Raji Rana the Trust has provided guardianship to the chimpanzee couple by providing one million rupees annually.
On the occasion of the 50th birth anniversary of the then King Birendra on December 29, 1995, the government has given the responsibility of managing the Central Zoo to the National Trust for Nature Conservation. Spread over an area of 6 hectares (120 ropanis), the zoo currently provides shelter to 113 species of various wildlife.
Various physical infrastructure works have also been undertaken to provide proper habitat to the wildlife and to facilitate the observers. The Central Zoo has been rescuing an average of 300 wild animals annually.