In 1974, a U.S.-based research organisation set up a laboratory in Liberia and began experimenting on chimpanzees. For the next three decades, more than 400 chimps were held in barren laboratory cages whilst being used for painful and invasive hepatitis B and blood cleansing experiments.
Since the shutdown of these experiments, a few dozen chimpanzees remain who have been relocated to an island in Marshall. Whilst a 100 acre sanctuary is currently being built nearby by another NGO, locals have made it an unofficial business providing tours to this one.
I was told there was a chimpanzee sanctuary somewhere in Liberia so decided to give it a go. Ultimately, we arrived at a fishing village and the locals claimed they were the safekeepers of it. I'm not entirely sure whether this helps the chimps - I'm no conservationist - even if the locals are feeding them in return. There was something odd about having taken a log-boat, standing atop a rickety free-standing water tank in the middle of the river with three other men who were peeing at the same time, the fourth hurling bananas, as I stared at the animals.