Wildlife trade victims transported to Kasungu to prep for release to wild

vervet monkeys

International Fund for Animal Welfare partner Lilongwe Wildlife Trust (LWT) has transported a troop of 18 vervet monkeys, all rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, to one of Malawi’s biggest national parks, where they will be eventually released back into the wild.

LWT runs Malawi’s only accredited sanctuary, the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre. Many of the intakes are orphaned primates, the majority of them vervet monkeys and baboons rescued from the pet and bush meat trades.

Through a careful rehabilitation programme, LWT has been able to manage a successful Primate Release Project relocating some of these animals to Kasungu National Park.

The project ensures that these animals have the best possible chance at life in the wild, so stringent monitoring is carried out for nine months pre-release to ensure that all individuals have the necessary skills and social behaviours to form a cohesive group structure, with successful foraging abilities and are capable of avoiding dangers such as predators.

Now that they have arrived in Kasungu NP, the troop will be given some time to adjust to their new surroundings in a specially built release enclosure before the doors open and they can fully explore their new territory.

LWT’s Primate Release Research Team is based at a research camp within the Park and will conduct post-release monitoring of the troop for up to 12 months with the help of VHF collars that have been fitted onto eight of the monkeys.

The data pre- and post-release will then be analysed to contribute to research into the welfare status of primates in captivity compared to when they are released, and how well they are able to adapt to life in the wild, and what impact it has on their quality of life.

“This year’s vervet troop has proven themselves to be a tight knit group who are well prepared for their release into Kasungu National Park,” Jasper Iepema, Sanctuary Manager at LWC, said. “This is what the team has been working toward for months, so it will be incredibly rewarding for everyone involved to see the animals that they have worked so closely with be reintroduced to their natural environment.”

If you include this year’s troop, LWT will have relocated 91 primates (two troops of vervets and two troops of baboons) back into the wild since 2013.

That’s almost 100 wild animals that have been given a second chance at freedom.

The bush meat and pet trades are sadly still prevalent in Malawi, putting wild populations of primates like baboons and vervet monkeys at risk. Lilongwe Wildlife Trust’s Primate Release Project is a way to give these animals a better quality of life, and assess their welfare as a wild troop compared to one in captivity.

Kasungu National Park has been chosen for its well suited habitat full of foraging opportunities, with plenty of space available for further populations of both vervets and baboons.

LWT sends its heartfelt thanks to IFAW and the generosity of its supporters, without whom we would not have been able to take these animals back into the wild.


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