Mama Posseh’s personal tragedy

Many visitors to Tacugama have gotten to know Mama Posseh quite well. She is a dedicated surrogate mother to the baby chimps as well as making sure the lodge guests are well taken care off.

Posseh two years ago with Perry and Molly.

Posseh two years ago with Perry and Molly.

The infant chimpanzees are very attached to her (and vice versa) and she has a special place in the heart of current and former staff, volunteers and visitors to Tacugama.

Posseh 6 months ago with new arrival Morlai.

Posseh 6 months ago with new arrival Morlai.

Tragedy can strike suddenly and two weeks ago Mama Posseh was called out in the middle of the night to hear her house had burnt down and her longterm companion had died in the fire.

The charred remains of Posseh's house.

The charred remains of Posseh’s house and possessions.

Nothing can compensate for her personal loss, but we have started a fund to help rebuild her house. If you are able to help, send us an email at info@tacugama.com. Donations can be made in person, with PayPal on our website or through bank transfer; just let us know in the comments it is for the ‘Posseh fund’.

 

Chimps at Tacugama kept entertained with extra enrichment

The aim of environmental enrichment is to improve animal welfare in captivity. The basic concept is we try to provide a more stimulating environment, increasing the diversity of behaviour and decreasing any existing abnormal behaviour.

Chimpanzees at Tacugama are housed in different kinds of enclosures. Our forest enclosures don’t really need enrichment because the environment is already well enriched; many trees, branches, vines, insects, etc. The smaller enclosures are well provided with poles, ropes, swings, and lots of other chimps to play with. Still, it’s nice to give to the chimps opportunities for a wider range of natural behaviour. For instance, instead of giving palm nuts to the chimps directly, we have tried scattering the nuts or hiding them in the ground. 

The care staff hiding nuts in the enclosure

The care staff hiding nuts in the enclosure

Enrichment is also important to keep chimps busy who are staying in cages for a while. For example, young Nico who is still in recovery from his arm surgery. (More info on Nico’s operation can be found in our blog update from last November.)

Nico playing and enjoying his ball

Nico playing and enjoying his ball

Care staff have been providing new ropes and swings, plastic pipes or a Kong toy smeared with food, puzzle feeders, branches and leaves, cardboard filled with shredded paper and small treats, etc. to keep the chimps entertained.

Thanks goes out to former volunteer Caroline Griffis who set up a lot of the enrichment protocols, current volunteer Brunilde Ract-Madoux and generous lodge guest Jutta Philipp who provided us with the burlap bags and new climbing rope.

If you have access to second hand climbing rope, burlap bags, old firehose, Kong toys, Boomer balls etc, let us know through info@tacugama. If you live in/around Freetown, also let us know if you have spare newspaper/cardboard; old tires, water containers (for water cooler) etc. The chimps will be grateful!

Chimps discovering and playing with burlap bags

Chimps discovering and playing with burlap bags

 

New Tacugama Greetings Cards and Prints Available

Talented British artist, Penny Rock, is creating some  beautiful art depicting chimps from the sanctuary in a range of mediums including watercolours and oil pencils.  

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She’s used the original art to develop a set of greetings cards that are blank inside so that you can use them for all occasions.  Each set includes 5 different designs and every one sold will directly benefit the chimps at Tacugama – you can buy your set by visiting the Tacugama online shop, we’re able to deliver worldwide.   

The originals and a limited number (50) of mounted prints signed by Penny Rock are also available for sale in support of Tacugama – they’re almost A4 in size (around 22 x 25 cm).  If you’d like to know more about these then please email info@tacugama.com.  These are the prints and originals currently available.

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Tombo, Gaura and Young Bruno

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Chica

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Zoyas

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Monko

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Alex

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penny Rock at work creating the images – you can learn more about her work – click here to visit her website.photo 35 (2)

 

We look forward to hearing from you and hope that you’ll be visiting our online shop and sharing these lovely images with your friends and family very soon !

 

Friends of Tacugama Scholarship to God’s Army Preparatory School

The Tacugama Kids Environmental Education Programme-TKEEP is geared towards empowering school children in conserving their environments and wildlife. In this vein, through Friends of Tacugama UK, our long time supporter Simon Carr has helped fund scholarships to sixteen school children of the God’s Army Preparatory School at Regent Village, located near the sanctuary.

This scholarship is a form of assistance to these under-privileged children to pay for their school fees, as otherwise it would be difficult for their families to afford these fees.  In an official ceremony at the school, the scholarships were handed out to the deserving students by HH Judge Simon Carr and our education co-ordinator Ethel Sillah. The children appeared happy and slightly overawed; we feel very fortunate to have been able to provide this opportunity to keep such a good number of hard working youngsters in the educational system and we wish them all the best for the future!

Simon Carr handing over the scholarship to a children

Simon Carr handing over the scholarship to a child from Regent

Friends of Tacugama, Simon Carr and our education coordinator Ethel Sillah

Some of the many scholarship recipients with Simon Carr and our education co-ordinator Ethel Sillah

Latest news from our research project studying wild chimps

Last week, our research team went to Port Loko district to retrieve 16 camera traps set up last December in this study area. The aim of the study is to obtain data on the wild chimpanzee population living in human-disturbed habitats. At the same time, the data obtained may help to estimate biodiversity richness and to learn about the impact of crop raiding by chimpanzees and other animals. The principle of camera trapping is simple: an automatic camera is positioned in the forest and passing animals trigger the shutter, taking their own photograph. At the same time, interviews were carried out across several villages to obtain information on the wildlife biodiversity, people’s attitudes towards chimpanzees and other animals, and the impact of wildlife crop raiding.

Joseph Marah interviewing a villager

Joseph Marah interviewing a villager

 

Konkofa Marah retrieving the camera tra

Konkofa Marah retrieving the camera trap

 

Picture of a bushbuck

Picture of a bushbuck

A female chimpanzee with her infant

A female chimpanzee with an infant

 

This project has been partly funded with a grant from the Rufford Foundation (Rufford Small Grants Fund).

More info can be found in our blog update from last year.

 

Then & Now: UMNO (formerly UNMO)

It is nice to look back occasionally on how our long-term residents have changed over the years. Sometimes the people involved in bringing them to Tacugama come back after many years to visit or contact us to find out how they are doing. Umno was originally named after UNMO (United Nations Military Observer) and brought to Tacugama in January 2006 by British soldier Stu McLaren, who recently emailed us a picture of him taken near Kabala. At that point he was around two and a half years old.

Stu McLaren with Umno near Kabala, shortly before bringing him to Tacugama

Stu McLaren with Umno in 2006, shortly before bringing him to Tacugama

He arrived with rope burn from being tied up up around the waist, neck and hands. As well, a gunshot pellet was found lodged under the skin of his right arm, indicating the hunters (that almost certainly killed his mother) had access to fire arms.

He recovered well, and now, eight years later is a big subadult chimp, well integrated in his group and enjoying living in the large forest enclosure.

Over time, his name has morphed into Umno, probably because it is easier to pronounce!

Umno as he is now, a subadult chimp.

Umno as he is now, a subadult chimp.

Having a bit of a scratch

Having a bit of a scratch

Volunteers brighten up the Sanctuary!

Volunteer, Coloma Jaume, from Mallorca, has decorated some of the Sanctuary’s exterior walls. Below you can see the sequence of one of her works reproducing a design by Ewa O’Neill. See the original design on our Facebook page. Thanks to both!

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Second baby chimp from same area within weeks

Kortu is name after the area she came from

Kortu is name after the area she came from

Another baby chimp arrived at Tacugama just a few days ago. Kortu hails from the same area as baby Michael who reached us just weeks ago (and is doing a lot better now). We had given the employees from the palm oil plantation who brought in Michael some large posters to spread the message that hunting and keeping chimpanzees is illegal in Sierra Leone.  Possibly this was the cause that the villager just handed Kortu over to plantation staff, rather than trying to sell her, like with Michael.

Kortu observes the filling in of her forms

Kortu observes the filling in of her forms

After filling in the necessary forms, where palm oil employee Tom tried to give us as much information as possible about Kortu’s history, she was entrusted to Mama Posseh’s expert care. This was the second time Tom had made the long drive from the provinces to Tacugama with a baby chimp within 6 weeks!

 'Chimp chauffeur' Tom hands Kortu over to Posseh

‘Chimp chauffeur’ Tom hands Kortu over to Posseh

These two recent arrivals from the same area highlight the importance of sensitizing the local population there about the special role of chimpanzees as well as making sure they know it is illegal to hunt chimps or keep them as pets. Tacugama has a lot of experience in outreach projects in many parts of Sierra Leone and is already in talks with local chiefs and the director of the palm oil plantation about how to shape a sensitization campaign in that area.

Our ultimate goal is of course to have chimps be safe from threats in their natural habitat, and no longer have any new chimps needing sanctuary at Tacugama.

 

 

Nico gets long awaited op to repair his arm

People who have been following this blog and our Facebook page know we have been trying hard to source much needed extra funds. All to let Nico get specialist help to repair an old fracture in his right arm. Originally caused by machete and gunshot wounds just before he reached Tacugama, the fracture never healed properly.

You can clearly see fractured the bone jutting out oddly in this picture.

You can clearly see fractured the bone jutting out oddly in this picture.

We were  extremely lucky to have orthopedic vet surgeon Antonio Peña from Barcelona offer his help, donating his time and expertise. All the specialist equipment came with him from Spain.
The operation thankfully went well and means that Nico no longer has the ‘extra elbow’ he’s been struggling with for more than a year. X-rays taken two days after the op show the correct placement of the plate and an impressive amount of screws (see below). Fingers crossed that the healing process goes well. The goal is for him to join his friends again and be able to swing around as wildly as he wants without any problems!

Preparing Nico for the op with vets Antonio, Jenny and Rosa.

Preparing Nico for the op with vets Antonio, Jenny and Rosa.

Antonio operating with the x-rays of Nico's fractured arm in the background.

Antonio operating with the x-rays of Nico’s fractured arm in the background.

Nico after the op, with Willie Tucker, Antonio and Jenny (bandaging the arm just before we let Nico wake up again).

Nico after the op, with Willie Tucker, Antonio and Jenny (bandaging the arm just before we let Nico wake up again).

A close up x-ray taken 2 days after the op to assess. You can see the old fracture slightly right of  the middle.

A close up x-ray taken 2 days afterthe op to assess. You can see the old fracture slightly right of the middle.

We’ll try to keep you posted on Nico’s progress!

Many thanks go to
-Antonio Peña Ruiz from Tres Torres Vetarinaris in Barcelona for performing the op at no cost.
-Esteve laboratory for the donation of the anesthetic drugs.
-Veterinary Instrumentation for donating the plate and screws.
-Brussels Airlines for reducing the cost of the flight to get Antonio here and back!index

Festive King Bruno book launch Freetown: conservation is key

British High Commissioner Peter West, Tacugama's founder Bala Amerasekaran, Head of Delegation EU Peter Versteeg, Dr. Sama Banya, OBE and author Paul Glynn.

British High Commissioner Peter West, Tacugama’s founder Bala Amerasekaran, Head of Delegation EU Peter Versteeg, Dr. Sama Banya, OBE and author Paul Glynn.

Saturday 9 November was an important evening for Tacugama, as it was the official local launch of King Bruno. This beautifully illustrated book by Paul Glynn tells the story of Tacugama’s founding chimpanzee with the aim to educate young people about chimpanzees, conservation and development.

The representative of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), Lovetta Juanah.

The representative of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), Lovetta Juanah.

Bruno’s life from orphaned baby to adult male roaming the forests after his escape in 2006 has taken on a mythical quality amongst many inhabitants of Freetown. Though the book is aimed at twelve year olds, adults will find much to enjoy in the evocative storytelling as well.

The importance of the Freetown launch was to create publicity locally for the book with the added aim of getting it into the school curriculum.

The main message repeated by the speakers was that conservation of the forests is key, to protect the habitat of chimps and other wildlife. Bruno can help underscore the importance of this message in an individual story, that will speak to people’s hearts.

Upcoming talent Janet P performing the catchy 'Tacugama song' with local dancers from Regent.

Upcoming talent Janet P performing the catchy ‘Tacugama song’ with local dancers from Regent.

Bala and Paul Glynn signing the books for keen buyers at the end of the launch.

Bala and Paul Glynn signing the books for keen buyers at the end of the launch.

 

You can buy your own copy of the book at Tacugama or through amazon.com or amazon.co.uk.

Many thanks to Airtel and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) who made the launch possible, as well as British Airways (who sponsored Paul Glynn’s flight) and SLBL and the Freetown Golf Club, where the event was held. Speakers Lovetta Juanah (EPA), Dr. Sama Banya, OBE, Isa Blyden, British High Commissioner Peter West, Head of Delegation EU Peter Versteeg and BBC interviewer Umaru Fofana helped make the evening a success.