Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Helping Ponso, sole survivor of 'Chimpanzee Island' in I. Coast
By Christophe KOFFI
Grand-Lahou, Ivory Coast (AFP) Sept 24, 2017

"Oooah! Oooah!" Screeching to see visitors on the forested "Chimpanzee Island" in Ivory Coast, Ponso is the last, lonely survivor of a colony of 20 apes who mysteriously died or vanished.

An effort is under way to keep Ponso alive and well in a west African country where the ape population has plummeted by 90 percent in just two decades.

Chimpanzee Island adjoins the village of Grand-Lahou in the Bandaman estuary, an outlying reach of tropical forest about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the commercial capital, Abidjan.

Only Ponso remains of the group of chimpanzees relocated to the tiny island from Liberia in 1983 by a research laboratory for medical tests.

Since August 2015, the association Les Amis de Ponso (Friends of Ponso) has paid for the animal's food and for a dedicated carer, Germain Djenemaya Koidja, according to a wooden signpost near the landing stage and the website

Two years ago, Ponso suffered a traumatic loss when his female companion and two children all died of unknown causes, says Koidja, a retired farmer in his 60s.

Since then, the animal has been "the world's loneliest chimp", as SOS Ponso puts it.

- Part of the family -

Every morning, barefoot, Koidja pushes through the water lilies on a makeshift boat to carry food and medication to the island, which lies just a few metres (yards) offshore.

He is welcomed with cries and acrobatics by Ponso, an ape about a metre (three feet) tall leaping from one branch to the next.

"Ponso is like my child. I don't want to see him go... I'm making a call to have someone send me another female," says Koidja, whose family specialises in primates, from his father down to Junior, his 21-year-old son.

The small village community shares his determination to save Ponso, whom residents now consider to be part of the family.

The chimpanzee's isolation has also moved Francoise Stephenson, the Franco-American owner of a hotel in Lahou who has become the leader of a rescue committee.

- 'An Ivorian citizen' -

"I have accepted the role of intermediary between well-wishers and Germain," says Stephenson, who is in her 60s and has come to know Ponso well.

"During my last visit, we exchanged kisses and praise, he put his nails in my ears and then my nose," Stephenson says. "I left the island with the impression that I was coming down from another planet."

Ponso's fate has been taken up by the new African Primatological Society (APS), which held its first congress this year to respond to a catastrophe that may see more than half of Africa's primate species doomed to disappear.

In the large island nation of Madagascar alone, off the southeast African mainland coast, about 85 percent of the famous wide-eyed lemur population is threatened.

"Ponso's story is rather touching," says the APS president, the Ivorian Inza Kone, who is also director of the Swiss Centre for Scientific Research in Ivory Coast (CSRS).

"A plan to transfer (the ape) to a sanctuary in Zambia was mooted by NGOs to end his solitude. But Ivorian authorities refused, arguing that Ponso was a non-transferable Ivorian citizen," Kone adds.

Ponso's salvation has become a textbook case for African primatologists confronted with poaching, deforestation and the need to mobilise resources to help animals.

"From a scientific and even ethical point of view, it's clear that Ponso must be brought out of this situation of isolation, as soon as possible. There are two methods, sending him company or taking him somewhere else," Kone says.

Specialists are wary, however, about finding companionship for Ponso, since nobody has clearly explained the deaths and disappearances on his island in the last 20 years.

- Sanctuary? -

One school of thought holds out for prolonged care and company, arguing that to move Ponso elsewhere would be admitting an inability to protect the last primates in the tropical forest, where their ecological worth is incontestable.

"These great apes are cousins with whom we share 80 percent of our genes. A single family lives in a very large territory (25 square kilometres, 9.6 square miles) and can travel 15 kilometres (nine miles) per day. All along the route, it eats and leaves waste and grains that grow to make the space green again," says Bassirou Bonfoh, chief director of the CSRS.

Most people see the creation of a chimpanzee sanctuary as the most viable solution. "The sanctuary will reproduce the natural life setting of the animal and enable him to be in contact with his fellow apes," Kone says.

African primatologists are ready to back this project, but count on a political will to help, which they have so far found insufficient.

"Ponso is the torchbearer of this initiative to create a sanctuary in Ivory Coast," Kone says. "We have to hope that the efforts to set it up get there before it's too late."



Cell phone data coupled with sewage testing show drug use patterns
Washington DC (SPX) Sep 21, 2017
The drugs people inhale, inject or ingest ultimately end up in some form down the toilet. So scientists have started monitoring drug use through sewage-based epidemiology. But this approach hasn't taken into account the variation in number of people who add to wastewater in a given area at a given time. Now one team reports in ACS' Environmental Science and Technology a way to account for ... read more

Related Links
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

In Dominica, islanders stand strong despite chaos

Frida, the four-legged heroine of Mexico's quake rescues

Psychologists help Mexico deal with double trauma of quake

NASA Tech Aids Search Following Mexico Quake

Space radiation is risky business for the human body

Corrosion in real time

Self-healing gold particles

'Naturally' glowing cotton yields dazzling new threads

Veolia's US growth hopes run into trouble

Puerto Rico rushes to evacuate many amid fears dam will burst

Wave Glider surfs across stormy Drake Passage in Antarctica

Two Vietnamese fishermen dead in Philippine navy chase

Researchers take on atmospheric effects of Arctic snowmelt

Impact of Arctic amplification on East Asian winter climate

Wind, Warm Water Revved Up Melting Antarctic Glaciers

Ice age may have clipped bird migration

Study identifies likely scenarios for global spread of devastating crop disease

Food labeling pact aims to cut food waste

Syngenta chief calls for debate on 'sustainable agriculture'

At Dubai expo, Chinese firms look to tap lucrative halal market

New quake shakes traumatized Mexico City

Conditions growing dire in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico

Tens of thousands flee rumbling Bali volcano

Thousands evacuated from Vanuatu island as volcano erupts

C. Africa asks UN to send more peacekeepers, ease arms embargo

New ceasefire signed by armed groups

Nigerian journalist detained over report on flood camp protest

West Africa steps up battle against pirates and poachers

Ancient human DNA in sub-Saharan Africa lifts veil on prehistory

Helping Ponso, sole survivor of 'Chimpanzee Island' in I. Coast

Cell phone data coupled with sewage testing show drug use patterns

Royal tomb of ancient Mayan ruler found in Guatemala

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement