November 18, 2008—Less than ten months old, a baby chimpanzee named Mapima (pictured) was being mistreated by Congolese army soldiers until she was rescued last week by the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to a post on the official blog of nearby Virunga National Park.
Goma is at the heart the current bloody conflict between rebels and the army that threatens Virunga's apes. (See "Rebels Seize Congo Gorilla Park; Hopes Dim for Apes" [October 27, 2008].)
ICCN veterinarian Arthur Kalonji (pictured) said he had gotten word of the baby chimpanzee from "a friend of a friend of a friend," who said an expat had bought the chimp—technically an illegal act—to save her from the soldiers, the blog said. Mapima is resting and receiving veterinary care in Virunga before flying to a Congolese chimp sanctuary. Despite a few sores on her legs and likely stress, Mapima seems to be doing fine, according to her temporary caretakers. Virunga officials say that soldiers often take young chimps as pets. In August, officials had recovered another baby chimp being held by the Congolese army.