"Taiping 4" Rescue Update: 29 March 2007
The bad news is that even if the go-ahead comes in the next few days, it's now just too late in the year to send the gorillas to Cameroon. The fair weather window that would have allowed the four gorillas to acclimatize to their new home is closing as the West African rainy season draws in. Moving the gorillas will be stressful for them, and this may compromise their immune systems for a short time, making them more susceptible to disease and germs, especially during the rainy season that they are no longer accustomed to. So, for the best welfare of the youngsters, we had to concede that their stay in South Africa will have to be extended for at least another few months.
The good news is that IFAW remains committed to making sure the gorillas do eventually go home. We're doing everything possible to encourage the Government of Malaysia to give their official sanction for the gorillas to be moved to the Limbe Wildlife Centre, and that includes working via the South African and Cameroon governments, and the media. We do remain positive that it is only bureaucracy that is slowing this process and nothing more sinister than that.
Should the okay come in the next few weeks, then we will be working towards returning them from October 2007. Frustratingly, we will most likely have to start the move process from scratch as by then, the health certificates issued against blood tests conducted on the gorillas in December last year and the CITES import and export permits will have expired. We're also going to be keeping fingers crossed that the gorillas won't have grown too much bigger, because that may mean remaking the transport cages and figuring out how to squeeze them into the hold of a Kenya Airways jumbo!
In the meanwhile the gorillas remain in good health at the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria and we remain committed to making sure that they do eventually go home.