The US Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that chimpanzees held in the US in captivity will now have the same endangered status and protection as those in the wild. With that new in mind, Becci Crowe shares her recent experiences in the Congo helping to save them.
“The party’s over. Now off to the jungle,” declared Puyallup wildlife artist Becci Crowe as she departed on her 13th trip to the African continent. This one was special even for Crowe who is a Signature Member of Artists for Conservation. On this trip, Crowe joined famed primatologist and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Sanctuary in the Republic of Congo. The Sanctuary is home to more than 150 chimpanzees who are orphaned victims of the illegal commercial bushmeat trade.
Crowe and Goodall’s days were full of 4-wheel driving through rough roads hacked through the jungle, camping in the forest, and boat trips exploring orphan chimpanzee release sites. Crowe had the honor of attending Jane Goodall’s 80th birthday celebration when Dr. Goodall put out an appeal to raise funds to move over 100 chimpanzees to three pristine islands.
Crowe joined Dr. Goodall in the Congo to see this birthday wish realized and participate in the rare privilege of releasing more chimpanzees. “As I raised the door to a crate, watching the orphans bound into their new world, I was ecstatic to be standing there joining forces with Dr. Goodall. This is what conservation is all about… coming together to ensure a secure home in a natural environment where wildlife and humans can coexist in peace,” reflects Crowe.
Back home in her art studio Crowe’s work continues – raising awareness and funds for wildlife through her art and presentations. The next several months will include creating a new series of art from this unique experience in the Congo. She keeps a journal, sketches, and takes photos on location but the real process begins later in her studio. Crowe favors a time intensive technique called pointillism to create her images. Included in this story is “Silverback” a pen & ink pointillism piece from her earlier adventure with Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda. This powerful alpha male approached Becci to beat its chest in a display of dominance before disappearing into the jungle. “Little did I know when I first sat down in my art studio it was the beginning of a life beyond anything I could have imagined.” Crowe says with a big smile.