Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary – Chimpanzee Watching Congo.
Lwiro Chimpanzee Orphanage was founded in 2003 with a short term goal of ensuring the welfare of the primates in their care and to increase the holding capacity of the sanctuary in case of future confiscations. Since then it has taken over 100 primates thereby playing a vital role of capturing the confiscated primates and putting a stop to the illegal poaching in the Democratic republic of Congo. The ultimate goal of all the partners is to release the well-off animals into the wild again. This is the only only chimpanzee and monkey sanctuary found in the kivu region and with its establishment, the center has devised means to accommodate the vast influx on animals.
Back Ground of Lwiro
This center is a Pan African Sanctuary Alliance accredited primate sanctuary for primates(chimpanzees and monkeys in particular) playing a crucial role in conserving the Park (Kahuzi Biega National park) and the country at large by applying laws against illegal wildlife trade. It also receives visitors to raise awareness of the species they care for and how they do it.
The major aim here is to join protection and conservation efforts with high hopes of reducing the number of animals being hunted and killed. This center also supports the local community by giving them some revenue back per month, hiring out some people and by purchasing food and for the animals from them.
The center plans to achieve its ultimate goal by massive education and public awareness campaigns by this protection of the animals will be ensured thus having a less number of new arrivals.
In the Tango forest, a network of trails equivalent to 80km was developed. During this period, the process of habituation started and this took two years (1987-1989). Approximately 50 chimpanzees were habituated. The treks soon began and in the next three years, this was a very important source of Tourism revenue both to the Government and the small community of Tongo.
At that time unfortunately, the civil wars that existed put an end to chimpanzee tourism that had started booming from 1992-2001 but despite of these prolonged conflicts, Virunga National Park rangers were able to steadfastly protect and monitor the chimpanzees in Tongo. When peace eventually returned, the Frankfurt Zoological Society which had a team of 35 people then, all from the local community, was able to restart the habituation process. By June of that same year, the chimpanzees were habituated again and visitors were able to track them like before. The Tango Team still visits the chimpanzees daily and the group now consists of 32 individuals.