Chimpanzee sanctuary benefits from Mitsubishi’s commitment to environmental care

Mitsubishi Motors, a division of Mercedes-Benz South Africa, continuing its commitment to environmental care, has renewed its support of the use of five vehicles to Chimpanzee Eden, a project aimed at helping save one of Africa’s most endangered species. The project rescues captive chimpanzees from abusive situations, rehabilitates them, and is now gearing up to release them safely into protected reserves in their natural habitat.
The Chimpanzee Eden sanctuary, an affiliate of the Jane Goodall Institute, is based near Nelspruit in the 1000 hectare Umhloti Game Reserve. It is South Africa’s first and only sanctuary devoted to providing a haven for chimpanzees rescued from across Africa and the Middle East. Many of the chimps at Chimp Eden are youngsters rescued after their mothers were killed by bushmeat poachers.  Others are adults saved from tiny cages, starvation and other abuses inflicted by neglectful owners.
Chimpanzees are indigenous to the Congo forests of Central Africa, and to some forested expanses in both West and East Africa. They once numbered millions, but the destruction of the forests, in combination with bushmeat hunting, has reduced most wild chimpanzee populations to tiny, isolated groups that are under constant threat. There are now believed to be more chimps in zoos and research institutions than there are in the wild.
The Chimpanzee Eden project is entering an exciting phase that will pilot the release of captive chimps back into safe conditions in the wild – supported all the way by Mitsubishi Motors.
Meanwhile, the project has been receiving immense local and international publicity through the acclaimed television series Escape to Chimp Eden.  Commissioned by Animal Planet and produced by Triosphere, a Johannesburg-based company that specializes in top-end wildlife series and documentaries, Escape to Chimp Eden is entering its second season in North America, with a third season now in the planning stages.
“The three-way interface between Chimpanzee Eden, Triosphere and Mitsubishi is ultimately of tremendous benefit to chimpanzee conservation,” comments Triosphere Executive Producer Oloff Bergh. “The publicity generated by the television series has generated unprecedented awareness of the plight of chimps in captivity and in the wild – and without Mitsubishi’s support, the project would be a whole lot tougher to keep on track.”
The vehicles donated by Mitsubishi have been proving vital to the work of Chimpanzee Eden and Triosphere. “The terrain and conditions we work under are often very rough,” notes Bergh. “And the Mitsubishi vehicles have come through every new challenge without a problem.”
Mitsubishi’s relationship with Triosphere stretches back over five years, and includes projects related to the welfare and conservation of lions, elephants and a variety of other wild species.
Suraiya Naidoo, Divisional Manager of Mitsubishi Motors South Africa, says that Triosphere’s activities fit well into Mitsubishi’s broader environmental philosophy. “Triosphere produce internationally broadcast programs devoted to world environmental trouble spots, that serve to educate the world at large.  But beyond that, they get fully hands-on when it comes to supporting projects such as Chimpanzee Eden. Whilst they tell the story, they also facilitate real, lasting solutions.”
“We are pleased that once again we can provide meaningful assistance by the courtesy use of our Tritons and Pajeros. As tough, robust, go-anywhere 4X4 vehicles, the Mitsubishis have proven that they are ideally suited to rugged activities in harsh environments,” adds Naidoo.
“We at Mitsubishi have been extremely happy with the ongoing successes of Chimpanzee Eden and Triosphere, and are confident that the work undertaken is meaningful and worthwhile. We are pleased that the outcome of the project will have long lasting effects on our society and environment,” concludes Naidoo.