Chimp Eden Sanctuary

Situated within the beautiful 1,000 hectare Umhloti Nature Reserve, 15 kilometres outside Nelspruit, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) South Africa Chimpanzee Sanctuary is home to chimps that have been misplaced from their natural habitats in Africa.

Chimp Eden was established in 2006 and is the first and only chimpanzee sanctuary in South Africa.  This JGI chimpanzee sanctuary brings the world of chimpanzees closer to humanity through education end eco-tourism. The goal of the chimpanzee sanctuary is to rescue chimpanzees that have survived the bush meat trade, been orphaned, traded in the illegal pet market, or rescued from being traumatised for entertainment in circuses, beach resorts and night clubs.

It’s a happy life for these primates at the Chimpanzee Eden, but their cheerful behaviour belies their individual tragic histories. Each one of these chimpanzees has been rescued by the Jane Goodall Institute, mostly from logging and the related bushmeat trade. While adults are killed, the babies are kept as pets or sold all over Africa.

Lika was kept for years in a dark brick cage in Luanda, Angola. It took her a very long time to adjust to other chimpanzees – she hadn’t seen one since her family was killed. Nina was a little orphan, confiscated from bushmeat hunters in Sudan. She and the other little ones from Sudan – Thomas, Dinka, Zee and Charlie, still tend to stick together. A few others were rescued from circuses. Zac and Guida were chained to trees outside a nightclub in Luanda and were severely undernourished. They’d also been taught to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes to amuse guests, and their fur was falling out. Zac’s recovery, in particular, was one of the most dramatic at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Chimpanzee Eden.

It’s unlikely that any of these chimpanzees can ever be released back into the wild, simply because conditions are perilous for them all over the continent. But here they live a semi-wild chimpanzee life – foraging, interacting with each other in massive treed enclosures on this 1000-hectare nature reserve, eating healthy food. They are treated with constant kindness – something in short supply in their previous lives.

Founded in 1977, the Jane Goodall Institute continues Dr Goodall’s pioneering research on chimpanzee behaviour.  This research transformed scientific perceptions of the relationship between humans and animals.  The South African chimpanzee sanctuary is proud to be part of the Jane Goodall Institute, which is a global leader in the effort to conserve and preserve endangered species and habitats, and in particular chimpanzees.

Some 30 chimpanzees are living at Chimp Eden Sanctuary. Start meeting 2 of them: Bazia and Amari.

Photo credit: JGI South-Africa