Lwiro Primate Sanctuary

Liz's Notes History Support Activities Future Needs

Liz's notes

The first time I went to Lwiro was with Debby Cox.   She was headed there for meetings with NGO's and government officials and did I want to tag along?   One of the perks was seeing gorillas in the Kahuzi Bega National Park.   Now, on a volunteer salary, it is almost impossible to afford the $400 for a gorilla permit these days, so I went along.   We did go to Kahuzi and I saw Mugaruka, an extra ordinary Eastern Lowland Gorilla.   The Park is something out of 'Gorillas in the Mist', really beautiful.  

After that, we headed to Lwiro.   There were chimps and other monkeys in cages, too small.   At that time there was an infant bonobo male in a small cage.   He was so traumatised, he just screamed and masturbated.   Fortunately, he was headed for the Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary in Kinshasa.  

There was a baboon in a small cage pacing up and down.   I went over to see her and was told that she was blind.   I remembered some of my baboon speak from CARE and we chatted and groomed.   She kept reaching out in front of her, grasping at the air and I felt much sadness.   It was a heartbreaking moment that will haunt me.


The CRSN (Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles) was built in the 1950's by the Belgian Colonials.  Due to the political instability of the country, the centre is not used as much as it was in the day.  The Congolese nature conservation authorities (ICCN) were confiscating illegally kept wildlife but had nowhere to put them.  They collaborated with CRSN and sent all confiscated primates to their limited caging facilities.  Today, there are over 20 chimpanzees and monkeys at the centre.  Government funding is minimal but there are caregivers and other staff that oversee the care of the animals. 


CRSN has been supported in the past by the Born Free Foundation and the Jane Goodall Institute.  Volunteers are doing various fundraisers in order to built up the centre so that it can be a sanctuary for the primates and not just holding cages.


Because of the dangers associated with travel in the DRC, there are not many international non-profit organisations dedicated to wildlife rescue and conservation in the Republic.  AWARE has started to support CRSN and, in time, there will be more volunteers and more support for the building of the sanctuary.


Once grant proposals have been sent out to bigger organisations and the big funding is coming through, CRSN hopes to have a fully functional sanctuary with veterinary facilities, outdoor enclosures and tourism.


Funding is the biggest need for the Lwiro Sanctuary at present, please see the Urgent Appeal page for the latest needs.