"Taiping 4" gorilla relocation update: 11 December 2006

Gor_finger_mouth December, just 36 hours before the Taiping 4 gorillas were due to depart for Cameroon, the South African Government delayed them leaving.

Indications that something was going wrong started to filter through to us on Friday. But it was only yesterday, after meetings with the National Zoo authorities that we were told once and for all, that the gorillas could not go back as scheduled early tomorrow morning.

According to the South African government it does not have the authority to export the gorillas, without the agreement of the Government of Malaysia which confiscated the gorillas in the first place. The two governments are now trying to work out the details that will allow the gorillas to depart to the Cameroon.

We don’t know why the decision to delay was left to the very last moment, but you can only imagine the bitter disappointment of our team who had all the logistics in place and were looking forward to seeing the youngsters safely onto their Kenya Airways flight home.

So we’re hoping that the delay will be a short one, and that the gorillas will return as early as possible in the New Year.

During the last seven days our activities in preparing the gorillas have been feverish. On Wednesday last week, Dr Felix Lankester of the Limbe Wildlife Centre Sanctuary, darted and anaesthetized the gorillas so that medical checks could be carried out on them. The tests are essential to issue the veterinary certificate necessary to allow the gorillas to be relocated.

Of course, a major concern for the IFAW team was that delaying the return of the gorillas might mean that a new set of tests might have to be done and that the gorillas would have to be anaethetised again. Fortunately we are assured by the National Zoo that this will not be necessary.

To all the IFAW supporters out there, be certain that we remain determined to see the gorillas returned once and for all to Cameroon – it’s just going to require a little more patience in playing the waiting game! 

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