How Helping Mothers Helps Chimpanzees
Written By: Kari-Lyn Danyluk , JGI Canada volunteer
Category: From The Field
Two infants are born on the same day, a few kilometers apart in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The human baby is born at home, in a remote village with few medical resources. The chimpanzee infant is also born at home, in the soft leaves of the mother’s nest with extended family nearby, in the forest that surrounds the human community. Both mothers begin the arduous task of ensuring their infant’s survival.
Simply to reach adolescence, the human infant faces numerous challenges. The DRC experiences some of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. One in seven children die before the age of five, frequently from preventable illnesses like malaria or diarrhea. Seventy-three infants will die for every 1000 born, and 540 mothers die for every 100,000 live births. In a small rural village where every person’s contribution is critical, losing so many mothers is not only devastating for the immediate family, but for the entire community.
The human mother is also affected by ongoing conflicts. Like two-thirds of her fellow citizens, she will find it difficult or impossible to access government-sponsored health care, and will have to rely instead on whatever skills can be found in her village.
Seventy-three infants will die for every 1000 born, and 540 mothers die for every 100,000 live births.