News from the wild

Mission Caita continues

Published on: December 16, 2023

Do you remember Januario, Tina, José, and Walter from Mission Caita? They are now flourishing in The Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of the Congo.


Chimpanzee trafficking and poaching pose severe threats to these intelligent and endangered primates. Illegally captured chimpanzees often endure traumatic experiences, separated from their families and natural habitats. The trafficking of chimpanzees not only disrupts ecosystems but also raises ethical concerns about the treatment of these highly social and emotionally complex animals. Our efforts focus on combatting illegal wildlife trade, raising awareness, rescuing and supporting the rehabilitation and release of trafficked or rescued chimpanzees to preserve their populations and welfare.

The Backstory

Back in 2020, Wild at Life e.V.’s founder Asli Han Gedik found Januario caged in the backyard of a local industrial plant, living in dirt full of metal scrap, with no shades, no food and limited water.

Januario was swiftly rescued and brought to Wild at Life e.V.’s sanctuary in Angola, where he was under our care for a year.

Tina, José, Walter, and Maria were found in 2019 in a local’s backyard. Unfortunately, due to the lack of care and nutrition, Maria died before our arrival. Although it was determined that the immediate rescue of the remaining chimps was crucial as they were cage-bound for an extensive period, our hands were tied. In Wild at Life e.V.’s small sanctuary, we had limited space and couldn’t take in three chimps simultaneously. Moreover, the emergence of COVID-19 hindered our progress.

Instead, what we did was bringing the care to these chimps where they were, while also improving their living conditions.


From left to right: Tina, José, Walter

The Progress

While Wild at Life e.V.’s commitment involves rescuing and rehabilitating as many trafficked and injured animals as possible, our partnership with JGI takes our efforts further. It enables us to relocate victims of very severe cases to the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center, where primates receive comprehensive care addressing both physical wounds and mental trauma. This partnership is called Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

As both organisations are entities in different countries, we each held the responsibility of obtaining documents ahead of the relocation. JGI’s Dr. Rebeca Atencia worked closely with the Congolese Agency of Protected Areas and Wildlife to organise the necessary paperwork, while Asli with the Angolan Ministry of Environment.

Owing to our good relationship with the local authorities as well as the Angolan government, we weren’t only able to gain the exporting documents smoothly, we were also able to open the borders, which were closed at that time due to the pandemic.

From left to right: Asli, Pim, one of our rangers. Standing in front of a law-enforcement panel that Wild at Life e.V. set up with JGI

Once JGI met us in Angola, we immediately initiated the rescue mission of Tina, Walter and José. Tina’s rescue in particular required a lot of effort because of her delicate condition and fragile health. After the three chimps were seized, we picked up Januario from Wild at Life e.V.’s camp. Throughout this process, Pim, our Advisory Board Member and Dutch Representative, joined and helped us in Angola for this mission.

The synergy created when two committed NGOs unite, becoming a powerful voice for the voiceless, is truly extraordinary.

Our heartfelt appreciation goes to the JGI team for this invaluable partnership.

To read about the personalities of each chimpanzee, you may visit JGI’s wonderfully written article.

Our Importance

Wild at Life e.V. is the only NGO present in Angola. Since our establishment, poaching cases have dramatically dropped in the Mayombe forest. This wouldn’t have been possible without the patrolling rangers who risk their lives daily to be at the forefront of wildlife conservation. We are confident that one day, the poaching and illegal wildlife trade in Angola will be eradicated.

Catch a glimpse of what went down that day with these YouTube shorts!

Update on Kuxie

Kuxie, rescued with Zizi and Zeze as part of Mission Caita, is doing incredibly well in our camp in Angola. She is fun to be around, curious, and extremely agile.

Kuxie is a Moustached Guenon and yet another victim of the notorious wildlife trade

Kuxie is a Moustached Guenon and yet another victim of the notorious wildlife trade. Unfortunately, Moustached Guenons are being targeted for bushmeat in Angola, a practice driven by factors like traditional practices, source of income, and food security needs, contributing to their population decline.

A Moustached Guenon being sold by the roadside for $10
A pebble in his lifeless hand - a sign of retaliation till the end
A pebble in his lifeless hand - a sign of retaliation till the end

In memory of Caita, we named this ongoing rescue operations of trafficked primates in Angola “Mission Caita”. Caita might be gone, but with the birth of Mission Caita, dozens of trafficked primates were saved and awareness towards primate conservation has been raised. Caita is the martyr of an important cause and a true heroine.


To help us achieve our goal of putting an end to illegal poaching and wildlife trade in Angola, consider making a donation within your means or better yet, adopt one of the primates to show them your love!

Thank you for your support!

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This post refers to one of our projects. Read more about the related project to find out the background of this story.

Illegal Wildlife Trade

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