Among the most celebrated animals in Kenya are the Elephants, Rhino, Lion, Giraffes, Zebra, Buffalo, Wildebeest and Cheetah. A number of bird species also make the cut including the ostrich and flamingos. The hype on these specific animals can be attributed to the fact that they are numerous and can be found in more than one area. The other reason might be because they are indigenous to Kenya.
The chimpanzees of Kenya have found a home at the Sweet Waters Chimpanzee Sanctuary that is part of the larger Ol Pejeta Conservancy. They are not commonly mentioned because chimpanzees are not native to Kenya. But thanks to the Sweet Waters Sanctuary, they have now found a home here and even brought forth a new generation. Here is everything you need to know about these interesting primates.
They are closely related to human beings
Of all the animal life present on land and in the sea, the chimpanzees are closest to human beings. We share an amazing 98% common DNA, making them some kind of cousins to us.
They come from different countries
As already mentioned, chimpanzees are not native to Kenya. They are commonly found in Central Africa and some parts of West Africa. Countries with a significant number of chimpanzees include Senegal, Burundi, Congo and Rwanda. The chimpanzees at Sweet Waters all come from different countries and were brought to Kenya in search of asylum.
The Sanctuary was initially made for Burundi Chimps
The Sweet Waters Sanctuary was established as a home for the displaced primates of Burundi following the 1993 civil war. However, with time, the conservancy continued to receive individuals from different countries including Sudan, Rwanda and even Iraq.
Most of the chimpanzees had traumatic pasts
Apart from the few chimpanzees that were born in the sanctuary, most of them were rescued from very harsh conditions. Some were enroute the black market where they are sold as game meat, for illegal experiments or for wrongful human recreational purposes. Some of the chimpanzees have permanent burn and torture marks that prove their troublesome pasts.
They all have names
All the chimpanzees of Sweet Waters Sanctuary have been assigned names. Some of the names are related to their lives. For example, the female named Mwanzo is the first chimpanzee born in the sanctuary. The name Mwanzo means ‘the first’ or ‘beginning’ in Swahili. Other names include Jane, Mary, Sultana and Ali Kaka. The Sanctuary staff are able to distinguish each one by their looks, behaviour, and characteristics.
They are found in one place only in Kenya
Given their lack of nativity to Kenya, the chimpanzees can only be seen at the Sweet Waters Sanctuary. It is the only place in the country that has been able to successfully rescue and rehabilitate chimpanzees. Some of the animals passed through the Animal Orphanage in Nairobi but were later taken to the Sanctuary where they all live and thrive. The oldest individuals are well over 30 years.