Monday, October 17, 2005

Cameroon bids to win back apes from S.Africa zoo

Cameroon is launching a bid to negotiate the return of four endangered gorillas whose fate has infuriated wildlife protection groups since the animals were smuggled via Malaysia to a South African zoo.

A Cameroon government delegation was travelling from the Central African country to South Africa on Monday to try to win the release of the young Western Lowland gorillas, dubbed the "Taipeng Four" and smuggled out three years ago.

The gorillas were smuggled via Nigeria to Malaysia's Taipeng Zoo in July 2002, then shipped to South Africa's Pretoria National Zoological Gardens two years later.

Cameroon says the move violated the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

"As a member of CITES, South Africa is required to ensure that illegally confiscated animals are returned to their country of origin," Mary Fosi, senior adviser to Cameroon's Environment Ministry, told Reuters at the weekend.

"South Africa feels the Cameroon government has never really requested the repatriation of the gorillas officially," she said.

"This is why a delegation is travelling to South Africa to stress that these gorillas belong to Cameroon and they need to come back to their natural habitat."

Story here.

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