Apes are smuggled by airplane or ship to various destinations, and "on board, the great apes will remain in the same cage for a long period of time." They often die during their transit.
In fact, the report notes, that for every great ape who is confiscated - meaning seized by authorities and transferred to legal captivity - an overwhelming number die. For every bonobo confiscated, for example, five to 10 adults are assumed to have perished. According to the UNEP report, over 3,000 chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos "disappeared each year [between 2005 and 2011] from the forests of Africa and Asia through illegal hunting and trade."
Daniel Stiles was the lead author of "Stolen Apes." His work has mainly focused on the ivory trade, and he told The Dodo that it's "not easy to connect the gleaming white objects with the elephants that had to die to produce them." He says, however, working on the great ape trade easily produces that awareness:
With great apes the subjects of the trafficking are living, breathing creatures. I can see the intelligence in their eyes, and the self-awareness that they know they are in a terrible place. They are traumatized and often lonely. I know that many of them were in their mother's arms when the mother was shot for meat. Some even witnessed their mothers being butchered before their very eyes, her bloody pieces stuffed into bags for transport to market. The babies also get stuffed into bags or boxes and taken to someplace horrible where they are chained up while the poacher looks for a buyer. Eventually the long journey begins. I hate looking at great apes living behind metal bars, serving a sentence for a crime they did not commit. I would have to say that I am more concerned about great apes than any other species.
Sadly, Stiles says, great apes are not being given the attention they deserve: "My greatest disappointment is that most people do not share my concern. Great apes are usually neglected in all of the fanfare surrounding wildlife trafficking."
Stiles' words show just how devastating wildlife trafficking is for apes like Lomela, one of the 52 bonobos at Lola Ya Bonobo. According to the organization, not only do the bonobos have a nursery, medical attention and a 75-acre forest, they all will receive "lifetime care."
They also receive what they might need more than anything: surrogate mothers: "Just as crucial as physical treatment is psychological care," explains the organization. "The bonobos who arrive are often extremely traumatized by the loss of their mothers and families. We have lost more than one orphan to sheer stress. To combat this, infant bonobos are immediately given to a substitute mother who gives them all the love and reassurances they need to survive." Lomela was initially given to a human mother named Mama Henriette.