What should have been the latest wildlife site for tourist attraction on six islands in Liberia has turned into a harmful Colony of chimpanzees brutalizing women in search of food for survival.
Mary Walker, 48 is one of several to come under attack and victimized at the hands of ten chimpanzees when they were picking kiss-meat in early March 5, 2014 on one of the islands near Zangar Town, Charlesville, Lower Margibi County, near Monrovia-Liberia.
“We were five women and two boys but one of them managed to escape and the other was helping to rescue me from the chimpanzees but ran away and jumped into the water, leaving me at the hands of the chimpanzees”.
Mary Walker said the islands have served throughout the years as a place for hunting, fishing and kiss meat picking for livelihood.
These once friendly animals were been fed once a day with vegetable by their Liberians caretaker but out of hunger and desperation broke their bounds in search of food to harmfully seize the six islands.
The chimpanzees were once contained for research into hepatitis infections in Liberia by an American research group, the New York Blood Center who purchased more than 500 chimps for that purpose.
“The Baboon jumped between us when we left the Kenu, we were in the mud picking kiss meat but I did not hear the sound of the Baboon sooner, this is how my friends ran in the river towards the Kenu but I can’t swim this is how the Baboon caught me”.
Mary Walker said: “You can see my leg, the chimpanzee bit me and sliced my flesh and tore my vien at the back of my leg. They were plenty of them on me some were slapping and punching me, and then one of them bit my breast”.
According to Mary, her escape was miraculous. “You know I can’t fight the animals and I could not run because the mud held me at kneels-level but God gave me an idea to pick the mud throw it in their faces this is how one of the boys managed return with the kenu and rescued my helpless body”.
She explained her condition saying, see my foot is getting rotten, since they attacked me, up to now I am in pain all over my body, she mentioned.
Madam Walker lives in Jar Town, District Number One, Grand Bassa County where she is seeking traditional treatment by an herbalist.
Jar Town is more than two hour drive distance by motorcycle from the islands, the scene of the accident.
The health condition of Mary is worsening by the day as she has no money to attend hospital but she is appealing to government and humanitarian organizations to come to her aid.
New York Blood Center once had a partnership with the government of Liberia through the Liberia Institute for Bio Medical Research in 1975 to research with about 500 chimpanzees.
Ten years after the research project ended, the center has cut off promised funding, leaving the chimp colony to rely on donations from elsewhere.
After 36 years of operation, the research was then abandoned with about 66 living chimps, until up to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Liberia the chimps some died and had reduced to 55, without funding for feeding; they became desperate within their man made habitat.
In their hunger, they became harmful to burst through their man made habitat and took over the six islands.
The abandonment story broke before the harmful chimps’ recent attack on the victims but the Liberian Government is yet to take any action making the islands to be vulnerable to human habitat.
Conservation International, Liberia first investigated the situation of the abandonment of the chimps, their welfare whiles other Liberian advocates organizations in nature and tourism, decried the situation.
Heartbeat Tourism for Sustainable Development (HTSD) and Journalists for the Protection of Nature (JPN) are partnered group in collaboration with Conservation International, Liberia also championing the protection of the chimps.
HTSD has therefore, has raised concern on the establishment of a ‘protected chimps colony’ to help serve for wildlife and tourists purpose in Liberia.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has assumed the $30,000 per month cost of care, according to The New York Times. HSUS and conservation groups outside Liberia have started an online fundraising drive to support the chimps. (HTSD-Tourism Network)