Sierra Leone bans capture, killing of chimps
25 Jul 2007
FREETOWN, July 25 (Reuters) - Sierra Leone outlawed the capture and killing
of chimpanzees on Wednesday, declaring a one-month amnesty for anyone
keeping a chimp to hand it over to authorities.
A statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Marine Resources
read on national radio said anyone violating the new regulations would face
a fine of up to $1,000 or jail.
"It is now illegal by law to possess, capture, kill or keep chimpanzees,"
said the statement.
"To provide the public sufficient time to surrender chimps in their
possession a month's notice is hereby given for chimps to be handed over to
The government of the war-ravaged West African nation has established a
refuge at Charlotte on the outskirts of the coastal capital Freetown to take
in chimps from the public.
Ecologists say Sierra Leone's wild chimpanzee population has declined
dramatically from around 20,000 in the 1970s as a result of hunting,
incursions on their territory and the trade in pets and animals for
Sierra Leone's 1991-2002 civil war, during which drug-fuelled rebels of the
Revolutionary United Front (RUF) hacked limbs off civilians, drove many of
its 6 million inhabitants from the countryside.
Conservationists say that wildlife populations, including chimpanzees,
recovered as a result of rural depopulation caused by the war, but the
return of villagers after a 2002 peace deal has resulted in the destruction
of habitat, more hunting, and trapping of rare animals for sale overseas.