PINKIE & PIEH: Chimpanzees – Survivors of a human war

Pinkie & the Gorilla

In Cameroon at the PASA meeting in June 2001, Steuart and I met several wonderful people running sanctuaries helping orphaned primates in Africa.   Most of the sanctuaries specialized in chimpanzees and/or monkeys, since these are the two types of animals who seem to be rescued and somehow survive the traumas of their captures.  Gorillas tend to give up and die of depression and heartbreak.  But one photo in particular got my attention – a photo of Pinkie, a chimpanzee caught in the crossfire of the war in Sierra Leone …. So with the permission of Tacugama’s Sanctuary director, Bala Amarasekaran, here’s Pinkie’s story, to accompany his photos of Pinkie and her pal, Pieh,, sent by email 09 July 2001.

“Pinkie’s story is just about another Bushmeat Baby! Her mother was shot. The infant was about six weeks old, fragile, hardly any hair and Pink in complexion. The wife of the commissioner had already named her Pinkie and begged not to change her name.

Pinkie spent the first Eight months at my residence as she needed proper care. She has now moved to Tacugama and is part of the infant gang of Six. All the resident chimps know that she is just another chimp but with a different complexion! She is a favourite of all the chimps and they all have a soft corner for her and gets special treatment from everyone. Pinkie is 1 year and 10 months old….very docile but very playful. Still scared of heights and spends most of her time on the ground.”

in the rebel held territory(Gola Forest in Sierra Leone) bordering Liberia. The hunter was on his way to the nearest town (Kenema, a government controlled area) and was intercepted by the local Police commissioner at a check point. He was amazed by the unique appearance of the infant and decided to buy the infant for his wife as a pet. Pinkie was purchased for $200 . The police commissioner was not aware of our wild life laws and decided to bring the infant to the capital city, Freetown.

Fortunately, Tacugama runs an effective sensitization campaign and majority of the people in Freetown have knowledge on laws relating to endangered species and the existence of Tacugama. Some one who had visited the sanctuary in the past happened to see this white chimp wrapped up in a blanket, held in the arms of the wife of the commissioner. I was contacted the same night and I was able to track down the Police Commissioner, educate him with our current wild life laws and he  agreed to hand over the infant.