|all articles latest | past | articles by topics | search wildnews|
wild news on wildsingapore
5 Sep 06
"Taiping Four" Gorillas to Return to Cameroon
Story by Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's National Zoo said on Monday that four gorillas in its care would be returned to Cameroon, ending a long running dispute that had captured the attention of animal welfare activists.
The final decision to send the apes to Cameroon was made by the government of Malaysia under a complex diplomatic arrangement which gave it ultimate authority over the animals.
"The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa was recently informed by the Government of Malaysia of its decision to relocate the four infant gorillas ... to the Limbe Animal Orphanage in the Cameroon," the zoo said. "The four infant gorillas have adapted exceptionally well to their new home at the National Zoo. The gorillas became a favorite with the millions of visitors, who will sadly miss them," it said.
Cameroon had repeatedly called on South Africa to return the animals dubbed the "Taiping Four", named after the Malaysian zoo where they appeared after being smuggled out of Cameroon via Nigeria.
Amid the outcry, Malaysia agreed to send the lowland gorillas back to their home continent but not their homeland. They arrived in South Africa in 2004. It was not clear why the Malaysian government switched tack and finally decided to send the apes back to Cameroon where their numbers are dwindling in the wild.
Animal welfare groups had been pushing to have the primates returned home. "Malaysia, as the confiscating authority, has the jurisidction in this regard. They had initially okayed South Africa and I have no idea why they changed their mind," Willie Labuschagne, the executive director of South Africa's National Zoo, told Reuters.
Green groups welcomed the decision but it was not clear when the animals would be flown to Cameroon or who would pay for the transfer arrangements.
The National Zoo said it was not paying. "We're delighted, we have been wanting these animals to go back for a long tiome. The decision sets the correct precedent where the country of origin requests the animals and gets them back," said Jason Bell-Leask, southern Africa director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Related articles on Wildlife trade
|News articles are reproduced for non-profit educational purposes.|
website©ria tan 2003 www.wildsingapore.com