Community Capacity Building: Land Use Planning Workshop

The past month, the Outreach Team visited 3 of the project sites in Moyamba District to continue capacity building among the local community leaders and elders focusing mainly on Land Use Planning Workshop.

The Land Use Planning Workshop was held for community leaders in partnership with the Paramount Chief’s representative to teach community leaders on long-term land use management plans to promote conservation. Outreach Officer, David Momoh explains “Land use planning is an important component of natural resources management and building the capacity of local leaders to understand their natural resources in their communities.” The participants were prompted to map out their communities and discuss future land use plans to promote biodiversity conservation. Aerial images were also shown to the community to better understand their current land use. This was especially effective as it allowed the leaders to visualize how much of their forest had been degraded because of farming and other various pressures. The Chief’s speaker used an analogy that was close to home stating “Farmers only manage when their food becomes small, eating as much as they want during the harvesting period, but leaving little for the planting season. It is the best practice to plan out when you’re food is plenty. In this same way, that’s how forests should be managed.” Communities were encouraged to make a plan now, while their forests are still intact.

The land use planning facilitated better community management for 18 local community leaders . The workshop urged the leaders to set up governance structures to begin creating by-laws for the protection of the forest and chimps and environments. “We encourage people to diversity their livelihoods in order to manage their resources sustainably”, Outreach Officer Edward Marah says.

The Outreach Team will continue to host workshops for community leaders their natural resources and take ownership of their land!



Moseilelo School Construction Project: Promoting Conservation Education

TKEEP moseilelo

Tacugama has partnered with Schools for Salone, a United States based non-profit that raises funding to build schools in Sierra Leone. Schools for Salone, in partnership with Programme for Children, have built over 19 schools, channeling funding to a local NGO, Programme for Children. Tacugama has partnered with both to construct a school for Moseilelo Community.

Moseilelo area has been partnering with TCOP for the past 5 years to protect the Western chimpanzee through improved natural resource and wildlife management. A key component of their cooperation has been to help Tacugama to spread conservation awareness throughout their communities. In 2012, it was confirmed through camera trapping and reconnaissance walks, that two groups of wild chimpanzees were living in the surrounding forest, Kasillah Hills (Garriga, R.M., 2013). Six communities are established on the perimeter of the forest, with an estimated population of 1,317. The forest patch has been fragmented into two patches and is increasingly being encroached each farming season. As population begins to increase, there is an urgent need to continue raising awareness in these communities and shifting behavior change towards conservation practices.

As the Moseilelo Community has shown great efforts in implementing activities that promote conservation and protection of these groups of chimps, education facilities are lacking, hindering an improved future. On March 15th, 1995, rebels attacked Moseilelo community occupying the town for about 2 months. During this time, they slaughtered all cattle, raided and burned houses, and burnt down the church where school was being held. The community has not recovered educational facilities since, but still value education. 70-100 students typically gather in a community member’s home to learn because of the difficult travel to government schools. The nearest properly constructed government primary school is 14 miles away, and the nearest government secondary school is 5 miles away, in which students have to cross a river by canoe to get to. It’s estimated that there are about 220 students in the area, but many don’t attend the ‘community school’ due to lack of space and materials. Rather, student-age children are taken to the farm to work. Ethel Sillah, Education Coordinator states “A proper school structure is key to allowing students to attend school rather than the farm. Parents will know that their students are learning in a conducive environment and will send them to school. I believe that educating the students at a young age about conservation will lead to sustainable action in the future.” TCOP has partnered with Schools for Salone to assist in the construction of a proper school, to include 4 classrooms, a teacher’s office, secure storeroom and septic toilets to increase student attendance and work through the school to promote environmental education awareness, preserving the forest and the chimpanzees for the future.

If you’d like to help, please support this project by donating at and writing Tacugama on the Memo Line! All donations are tax deductible!

Moseilelo's current school structure, students, and volunteer teachers

Moseilelo’s current school structure, students, and volunteer teachers

Film Fun in Moyamba

Community members watching a film about the Great Apes

Community members watching a film about the Great Apes

During the past two months, the Outreach Team has been visiting the local communities to continue capacity building of the locally established conservation committees, monitor livelihood projects, conduct research, and deliver community-wide sensitization.

At night, after all other work is done, the Outreach Team showcases a film in the local barri (meeting place). Conservation Manager, Lauren Masey says “Showing films is an excellent forum for sensitization, targeting individuals that would not otherwise be a part of our meetings, such as older youths and diligent farmers. It also gives communities a visual on how human-like chimpanzees are.” After viewing films, community members are asked what they learned. They often respond that they learned that chimpanzees breastfeed just like our women and take care of their families, just like we do.

Films shows have captured an audience of over 600 adults and 300 children in the past two months. “The films discourage communities to hunt and consume bushmeat and display the potential effects this may have on both humans and the environment. They encourage people to diversify their livelihoods and to manage their resources sustainably,” Outreach Officer Edward Marah says.

Film nights are both fun and educational and help us get the whole community involved in our sensitization campaign.

Film nights are fun for the whole community!

Film nights are fun for the whole community!

Community Biodiversity Conservation Learning Exchange with STEWARD

This past month, one of our Outreach Officers had the opportunity to attend a learning exchange trip with USAID-funded and US Forest Service support programme, STEWARD, Sustainable and Thriving Environments for West African Regional Development. The group travelled to both Sierra Leone and Guinea sites to look at the benefit of STEWARD’s programmes in communities. Tacugama was excited to see that a lot of our efforts coincide with one another, but also picked up some new ideas on how to approach community conservation. STEWARD shared their eco-stove, Farmer Field School (FFS), agroforestry, Village Savings and Loans projects and how they impacted the communities. Outreach Officer Yirah Koroma says “It’s was beneficial that STEWARD took us on this learning exchange trip, so that conservation organizations can implement similar activities all throughout the country.” Thanks STEWARDS for your conservation efforts in Sierra Leone!

Tacugama Community Outreach Programme is implementing similar projects in our area of Moyamba District, but we are also interested in learning more about successful projects and discussing lessons learnt with other conservation programmes. We believe that it the joint effort of many organizations and across many sectors that can continue to bring about a positive change to Sierra Leone.

STEWARD Farmer Field School Testing Sustainable Agriculture Techniques

STEWARD Farmer Field School Testing Sustainable Agriculture Techniques

Appropriate technology Eco-stove created to reduce household firewood consumption

Appropriate technology Eco-stove created to reduce household firewood consumption

Tacugama Supports Community Development through Agriculture Intiatives

Community Meeting Center Built with Tacugama Supported Livelihood

Community Meeting Center Built with Tacugama Supported Livelihood

Tacugama provided Moseilelo a garri processing machine to help generate income, providing an alternative to hunting and the sale of bushmeat for the community. Garri is the product of grinding a cassava tuber into the garri machine to make grated pieces that can be roasted, creating the final product, garri. One 50 kg bag is sold at about $10 locally, and $15 dollars in Freetown. The machine has directly supported 425 people and is rented out locally to an additional 890 people.

Without the machine, the communities create a local tool, corrugated zinc roofing, poke holes in it, and manually grate the cassava. This process can take up to three days, whereas the use of the machine allows communities to process that same amount in about ten minutes. Chief Steven said that the machine has not only benefited himself, but the whole community.

Tacugama set up a Babu (Krio word for chimpanzee) committee, to help drive local projects and make sure benefits are shared amongst the community. The committee rents out the machine for $1 per day, and have earned enough to support the construction of a community meeting place. In Sierra Leonean culture, each community has a barri, to hold special meetings for the community. The community prides itself on their meeting place.

Tacugama is happy to see that the community has greatly benefited because of the support we have offered. Yirah Koroma, Outreach Officer states “A gathering place for the community is essential to maintaining cohesiveness and proper governance of a community. By having an official structure where they can meet, important decisions and by-laws can be made. The Moseilelo Community has protected their group of chimpanzees in the nearby forest, and we hope that local law continues to enforce this.” The Outreach Team has high hopes that the community will continue to develop sustainably while protecting the wild chimp!

Pangolin and other great animals caught on camera trap

A few days ago our outreach team collected the camera traps that they had placed in Western Area Peninsula National Park six weeks earlier.
The cameras had captured some very interesting images.
For the first time we had been able to catch a tree pangolin on the cameras. The pangolin is a very special scaly nocturnal animal, which lives mainly of termites and ants. Despite the name Tree pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) this species of pangolin is equally at home in trees and on the ground. Unfortunately the tree pangolin’s status is “vulnerable” and the species is declining in number due to bushmeat hunting and demand on the international markets, as the scales are used as traditional medication both in Africa and Asia. In krio, the local language here, the pangolin is called “shame beef” as it will roll up and hide its head, when caught by a hunter. We hope this one will never be caught by a hunter but only by our camera traps.


Another interesting animal which was captured on the cameras is the Black Duiker Cephalophus niger. It is a rare duiker, which suffers from overhunting. They are very adaptable animals and can live well in degraded habitats.

Black duiker

We also found this great picture of a group of Sooty Mangabeys (Cercocebus atys) on the traps. The sooty mangabey is still widespread in West Africa and is not threatened, despite being easy to trap due to their ground-foraging habits. We often see groups of them near Tacugama, though they don’t come near the chimpanzees.

Lastly, we had several pictures of chimpanzees with youngsters. It is great to see that the small population of Western Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) living in the Western Area are reproducing well. During the National Chimpanzee Census Project, carried out by Tacugama in 2009-2010, it was estimated that the Western Area National Park holds a population of up to 55 individuals of chimpanzees. It would be interesting to repeat the study and find out if the population has increased over the last five years.

Chimp with baby

Sources: and “The Kingdon Field Guide To African Mammals” by Jonathan Kingdon.

Bala visits the Ebola Heroes

As this terrible Ebola crisis begins to fade away, I decided to visit the front line to see the important and dangerous work undertaken by many local and international health workers.


It was a hair rising experience! I was touched by the dedication and commitment shown by every individual at the Port Loko Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) run by “Goal”, an international organization helping Sierra Leone to fight this epidemic.

EB Bala


These people are confronting death on a daily basis and it is not easy to stand up to these dangers and stigmas to server your fellow humans.
I was so happy and humbled being with them and to feel the spirit of caring, commitment, dedications and selflessness. I felt so small in front of these heroes.


Ebola survivor Mohamed now works as a nurse at the treatment centre.

Ebola – still not defeated

While many Western media have stopped their regular reports on the Ebola situation, we cannot. The fact is that Ebola is still around in Sierra Leone. Tuesday the new confirmed cases were 14.

Ebola Numbers

This week, the Government announced that the proposed opening of the schools at the end of March would be postponed. Sierra Leone is not ready yet.

We, at Tacugama, were hoping to follow the schools opening, and reopen the sanctuary for visitors at the end of March. However, after a few weeks with an increase in new confirmed cases, we have decided to keep the sanctuary closed for now. We still cannot take the risk for the staff or for the chimpanzees. This means another period with no regular income. Even if we are able to open in April or May, the rainy season will start very soon, so we would only receive very few visitors to the lodges and to the sanctuary during that period anyway.

So even if the Western media have forgotten about Sierra Leone and the Ebola crisis, please do not forget about us. We still need to feed more than 80 chimps every day and pay each of our 30 staff their salary every month. Any donation, big or small, is greatly appreciated and much needed. Please help us get through the last stretch of this crisis. Hopefully the end to it is near!

Mama Posseh’s new house is taking shape!

Last year in April we posted following about Mama Posseh’s tragedy when her house burnt down. She sadly lost her life partner, who was not able to escape the home on time.
To try to help at least a little bit, by finding a way to help rebuild her home, we set up our ‘Mama Posseh appeal’ to raise funds for the materials and labour. Many of you, both in Sierra Leone and abroad, made very generous donations to the fund, which was heartwarming. Small and large amounts came in through our international bank accounts and in cash. One day, a young boy showed up at the sanctuary with an envelope stuffed full of leones (the local currency) that his father had sent him to come deliver! Old volunteers chipped in, people who stayed at the lodges and remembered Posseh fondly, as well as supporters who had never met her but who had been touched by her story. After some delay due to the Ebola outbreak and arranging permits, the build of her new dwelling has now started to take shape.

The house is taking shape.

The house is taking shape.


From the house, in Bathurst Village, Mama Posseh will have the view of the mountain where Tacugama is situated and she will easily be able to walk to work.

Mama Posseh laying the first cement.

Mama Posseh laying the first cement.

Mama Posseh is extremely grateful for all the donations, and she frequently expressed her wonder and delight as we told her about the people all over the world lending her a hand. Now that the foundation has been completed and the walls are starting to rise, the whole village is taking an interest and many are helping with the work. She feels very gratified and is looking forward to having her own spot again!
Many thanks to all who, we were so pleased with the support!

All Posseh's grand children are following the construction.

All Posseh’s grand children are following the construction.

Tacugama just got SMARTer

Tacugama is very happy to announce that we have just partnered with the chimp-loving mobile company SMART Mobile here in Sierra Leone.
We made an exception and invited SMART to come and visit Tacugama, though we are officially closed. SMART fell in love with Tacugama after meeting the chimps and seeing all what we do. SMART will provide us with free sim cards and VPN’s to the staff making communication much more efficient here.

They will also participate in our conservation sensitization campaigns, by sending out sms chains with conservation messages through their mobile network .
In the future SMART will help us get our conservation messages through by sponsoring signboards and radio education programmes.
We are very excited about this new cooperation and grateful that SMART understands the importance of chimp conservation.
We will of course encourage all our visitors to patronize this new venture in Sierra Leone.

SMART blog

Manager Sofie and Director Bala are both happy about the new cooperation.