Help Ponso the loneliest chimpanzee

SOS for Ponso

Who is Ponso:
Ponso is a 40+ year old male chimpanzee.  He was born in Liberia. He was orphaned at a young age  and used in viral research, part of the VILAB II project of the New ork Blood Center (NYBC).
In 1983, Ponso and 19 other chimps were relocated to an island, close to Azagny National Park in Ivory Coast.  They were between seven and eleven years old. The ultimate goal was to release them but in a few months, 11 had died from lack of care or poaching.  Release wasn't an option anymore.  The nine survivors (including Ponso) were relocated to a smaller island. Five chimpanzees died shortly after this second move from disease or hunger. 
The help that once came from NYBC stopped hence for decades the survival of Ponso and his family depended entirely on the kindness and generosity of a villager, Germain.  Only four managed to survive: Ponso, a female and their two offspring.
Almost four years ago, the female and her two offspring got sick and died. Ponso himself was sick for almost a month, according to Germain, but he miraculously survived.  Since then, Ponso is alone on this five hectare island which offers no food resources.

Who are we:
SOS Ponso was created by Alexandra Gazel after her visit to Ponso in August 2015. It is a coalition of kindred persons, ATO and CALAO as the associated organization.
Ms Gazel is currently creating a french association "Friends of Ponso" dedicated to help Ponso and act as a recipient for Ponso's fund which will allow us to have a dedicated organization just for him that can provide funds for the rest of his life (at least 20 years).
The association CALAO, based in Luxembourg,  is the bank recipient until the "Friends of Ponso" are registered. CALAO was chosen by the coalition (and they agreed, thank you!) because CALAO is providing help to the zoo in Abidjan, Ivory Coast (the country where Ponso lives).
ATO is a sanctuary located in Benin, that rescue and care for primates. It's director Veronique Tessier is one of the kindred being.
One of the kindred being is Laurence Duthu. She created this campaign for Ponso. We are grateful for all she did. She's currently at ATO so she handed the campaign over to the coalition.
Estelle Raballand is the founder and ex director for 15 years of the Chimpanzee Conservation Center in Guinea. She has over 20 years of experience with chimpanzees and has been retained to better Ponso's life and find a long-term solution for him.

How your donations are helping Ponso:
CALAO transfers the funds to an account in Ivory Coast, managed by a franco-american woman, Francoise, who lives in Grand Lahou, close by Ponso's Island. She buys Ponso's food and pay his keeper, Germain. She keeps a close eye on Ponso and provide receipts. 
The funds that were already used, were/are to pay for Ponso's food and pay his keeper a salary since August 2015.
Estelle Raballand is going to Ivory Coast in April to do disease testings on him. The trip expenses will be paid thanks to the funds that were collected for Ponso. These tests are necessary to assess his health status and will determine in part his future.
The funds will also be used for his relocation and used to build a facility.  Ponso is still young and of course, the funds will also provide for his life long care.

What futur for Ponso:
Ponso is own by the Government of Ivory Coast. Any solutions found for him will have to be approved by the competent authorities in Ivory Coast.
His futur will depends on his tests results since there is too much risks for other chimps, including wild chimpanzees if he is in an endemic country, to contaminate his con-specifics.
If he is negative, there is two possibilities for him in an accredited PASA sanctuary somewhere in Africa, one in West Africa and one in East Africa.
Ponso can't cross border without a CITES permit since he belongs to an endangered specie. He will need an import and export permit given by the authorities in each countries.
If he is positive, moving him to Liberia in a few years, once a proper sanctuary is created, is an option.  Most of the chimpanzees abandonned by the NYBC in Liberia, have undergo the same testing protocoles.
Another option, a more costly one, will be to create a sanctuary in Ivory Coast where Ponso and other chimpanzees coming the pet trade or the bush meat trade can be rescued. Our main goal is to better Ponso's life so we are also thinking of an option if Ponso is positive to everything and would be too dangerous to be house with heatly chimps or moved, to create an integration facility on the island and bring one or two females, coming from difficult captivity, vaccinated or positive to the same diseases, to stay with him. In that option, we will create a small sanctuary just for these few chimps.

"Friends of Ponso" president answers to the NYBC statement regarding Ponso's origin:
« NYBC Answer: The chimpanzee nicknamed “Ponso” is unrelated to current issues regarding the Liberian sanctuary. NYBC has no direct information as to whether this is actually a chimpanzee that was part of the research group in Liberia. »

As president of the not-for-profit “les Amis de Ponso “ (Friends Of Ponso) I'm not surprise to see that once again the NEW YORK BLOOD CENTER, via is Q&A on its website, is not recognizing Ponso's origin and the NYBC involvement in his situation, a lone chimpanzee living on an island on the Bandama River, in Grand-Lahou, Ivory Coast.

The not-for-profit « Les amis de Ponso » ' objective is to help Ponso since my first meeting with Germain and Ponso in 2015. I decided to visit them, following articles published in the Ivorian press where Germain was asking for help to feed Ponso and relieve him from his solitude. I was distressed both by Ponso and Germain KOUDIA' situation.

Ponso, a lone male adult chimpanzee on a small island, owned his survival only to a farmer living across the water, Germain, who came every day to feed him with his own funds. Germain explained Ponso's past. A chimpanzee colony was transferred from Liberia at the beginning of the '80s. They were monitored by a German Veterinarian who came every 3 months to “vaccinate” the chimps.

Germain's father had been hired by the Ivorian Authorities to feed this colony that was placed on his island. The long term objective was to release the chimpanzees in the National Park of Azagny, but one day, the veterinarian stopped coming and Germain's father wasn't paid anymore. Nine surviving chimpanzees were still living on the island and Germain's father continued to feed them.

I wanted to confirm Germain's information and research Ponso's origin. Many press articles have allowed us to confirm Germain's information.

The New York Blood Center stated that their objective for the transfer of chimpanzees to Ivory Coast was “to restock the wild chimpanzees population in the national Park of Azagny” (Status survey and Conservation Action Plan for West African Chimpanzees, Rebecca Kormos and al, IUCN/SSC Primate specialist group, 2004).

The original colony coming from Liberia and transferred to Ivory Coast in 1983 included 20 chimpanzees (female-male ratio 50) aged 7 to 11 years old. A few months after their arrival in Ivory Coast, 6 had died and 5 were missing. In the 2004 report, it states that “Two of the original 20 released chimpanzees still survive today in the company of their two off-spring”

These two surviving chimpanzees were Ponso and a female named Crecia and two offsprings, Papu and Mimi. Unfortunately, in December 2013, Crecia, Papu and Mimi passed abruptly in less than 48 hours. To this day, we can only guess their cause of death.
A few old youtube videos shows 4 chimpanzees on the island where Ponso still lives. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KchcODcTpHc)

Attached articles confirm the IUCN report on the situation as well as a letter from the NYBC to Shirley Mc Greal (President of International Primate Protection League, IPPL) dated August 23rd 1983, confirming the transfer of 20 chimpanzees to Ivory Coast close to the National Park of Azagny on August 9th. The transfer and monitoring of this colony was under Dr. Knut Hentschel supervision (the German Veterinarian). The letter also state that 7 births were recorded, including 4 on the island.

In response to the NYBC statement in their Q&A seen on their website, denying their involvement in Ponso' situation and origin, we felt it was important to share the facts and information we have collected that proves the NYBC responsibilities (via VILAB) to Ponso's current situation despite their obvious and outright false denials.

If today, Ponso is well known, it is thanks to individual donations and a worldwide solidarity drive, via the crowdfunding site, Gofundme. Since its creation, the Not-for-profit “"Les Amis de Ponso" has been able to provide three suitable daily feeding to Ponso. Germain is also compensated for his work with Ponso and has been devoting his whole day to Ponso.

A chimpanzee expert, Estelle Raballand, was retained to assess Ponso's health status including his viral status in prevision to his integration with other chimpanzees. She has assessed the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage (CWO) in Zambia, who's offered to re-home Ponso and is collaborating with CWO for his safe transfer to them where he'll be living with other chimpanzees, a necessity for his specie.

We're currently working on and funding a large electrical fence and improvement of an indoor facility at CWO where Ponso will be living with at least two females, both from Ivory Coast since unfortunately Ivory Coast doesn't harbor a chimpanzee sanctuary.

Ponso's situation is looking brighter and we would like to thank everyone who's been supporting our actions. We also want to firmly condemn NYBC carelessness and lack of moral sense towards the chimpanzees they used for years for medical research and discarded in Ivory Coast as well as in Liberia.

Today, individuals are funding the NYBC responsibilities. We are talking about Ponso since he's the only survivor but what about all the chimpanzees that passed or disappeared, or the 9 survivors that were abandoned as well as Germain's father when NYBC stopped coming and providing when the restocking program was canceled? The NYBC can't ignore the facts, let alone deny them.

Thirty years has passed, we can't phantom that the NYBC is sensible to Ponso' situation but we are asking them to recognize their involvement in Ponso' life when asked and remove the false statement in their Q&A stating that Ponso has no relation with the NYBC.

Alexandra Gazel 
« Les Amis de POnso » , President


Please donate now to help us reach our initial goal of 60,000 €!

For an easy donation, here is a currency converter: www.xe.com

For more information on Ponso:
https://www.thedodo.com/chimp-left-to-die-welcomes-rescuers-with-open-arms-1605859476.html

https://www.thedodo.com/ponso-chimp-left-to-die-1563220792.html

HSUS are provinding for the 66 chimps in Liberia  abandonned by the NYBC like Ponso. They also have a page on go fund me:
https://www.gofundme.com/abandonedchimps

You can find Ponso on Facebook (SOS POnso) and also on twitter!

Don't hesitate to check PASA website to learn more about accreditate sanctuaries:
http://www.pasaprimates.org













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Organizer 

Alexandra Gazel 
Organizer
Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis), France
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