Tacugama is, in my opinion, one of the most well run programs in Sierra Leone. It is a chimpanzee rehabilitation sanctuary that Alastair and I had previously toured when his family was visiting back in November.
This time we brought a Canadian employee who was flying out later in the day. Chimpanzees are at risk in Sierra Leone because they are killed for bush meat and often baby chimps are easily sold as pets, even though it is illegal here. Chimps that are brought to the sanctuary go through a quarantine period and then are introduced to one of the six groups that have already been formed.
Social order is very important to chimpanzees and the staff need to be sure that the new chimp will be accepted. The six groups are always kept separated from each other, as chimpanzees are very territorial. The tour is run to coincide with feeding times so that guests can get a good view. Breakfast was sweet potato.
Lunch was grapefruit.
The sanctuary lies on a forest reserve and is surrounded by electric fencing. The oldest group of chimps in the sanctuary, the one closest to being introduced back into the wild, spends more time deep in the forest and is fed in fewer intervals. They are less interested in humans than the newer groups and thus are harder to spot. We climbed up into a treetop outlook but only got a view of the forest.
Chimpanzees are fascinating to spend time around and I applaud all of Tacugama’s efforts to rehabilitate and save this species in Sierra Leone.