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.

Tom – finally making chimpanzee friends

Tom is a chimpanzee of about 30 years old. He has spent most of his life as a pet in a private home. Tom was rescued and arrived at Tacugama almost a year ago.

He spent his first months here in the quarantine section. Then he was transferred to a  den close to some of the other chimpanzees. Here Tom could start to reacquire his chimpanzee skills and behaviors, which he had lost being alone for so many years, by looking at the others chimpanzees. Tom didn’t pay too much attention to the other chimps, but was very focused on people passing by the dens.


Tom also has to learn how to eat chimpanzee food again. Here he is trying a grass straw.

Later Tom was transferred to the night dens of “Gorilla’s group” to start his socialization process with his future family group. Gorilla is the alpha male of the group, followed by Zack and Salva. There are also two females in the group: Blama and Sunny.

We decided to integrate Tom in this group because of the small number of animals but also as Gorilla is a big but gentle chimp who with time could help Tom become a chimpanzee again. In the first step of socialization Tom was kept inside one den and the others were allowed to come inside during the day to visit him through a double layer of net. He initially was quite scared and often screamed and shouted during the day,  but after few weeks the care staff were very surprised to see Tom starting interacting with both with Gorilla and Salva, grooming them through the mesh.

In the last two months, we have started the real integration, allowing Tom direct contact with Salva, to create a good alliance between them. We started the process with Salva as he, being a young chimpanzee, could help to show Tom how to play. The first day they met each other they were both a bit cautious and didn’t dare to touch each other and when they did, they both got a bit scared. But slowly they got to know each other and now, Salva and Tom play all day long. Once in a while Tom has to take a break though. He is an old man and not used to all this activity.

It is very touching to hear them play and laugh. Tom has wasted so many years of his life being alone in a cage, and finally, in his senior years, he can enjoy life with other chimps, like he was supposed to. In the next weeks we will be planning to start the integration with Gorilla. Hopefully Tom and Gorilla will create a strong bond, which is important as Gorilla is the alpha male of the group. Tom needs to be accepted by Gorilla as it will make it easier for Tom to be accepted by the other chimps in the group. We have to do the integration very slowly, but cannot wait for the day that Tom will be able to go outside with his group in the big forested enclosure.

We will continue to update you on Tom’s progress in the following weeks.

RIP Grant

We have some sad news to share with all of you.

Saturday afternoon when the keepers were letting the chimps in Joko’s group inside, they noticed that Grant was not there. Grant has recently had some health problems, and it is very unusual for him not to come inside, so we were all immediately concerned. However, he had been seen at the last feeding an hour earlier, and had looked bright and was eating well at that time.

Joko’s group lives in a big forested enclosure with a thick cover of bushes under the trees. Despite our whole team looking for Grant, we could not find him in the enclosure and it started getting dark. During the night our keepers took turns in going to the enclosure and checking if Grant would have come out of the forest, but unfortunately he did not.

As soon as the sun rose the day after, the team started the search for Grant again, but with little hope that he would be found alive, since he had now not been seen for more than 12 hours. He was found and our worst fears were confirmed; he had passed away.

We continue to investigate the possible cause of seizure, ataxia and some deaths at Tacugama over the years. Findings so far has narrowed it to an endemic toxic plant and further investigations are being carried out. This is almost certainly what had happened to Grant; his post mortem exam did not point to any other cause of death.

It is already a very difficult time in Sierra Leone and at Tacugama, with the Ebola outbreak still worsening around us. We all try to keep the spirit high and focus on our job of taking care of the chimps. Days like yesterday are tough on the whole team here.

Grant was adored by all and his sudden death was a shock for everyone who knew him. He was very easy to love; sweet and gentle.

Grant blog 2


















Grant’s beautiful amber eyes were so expressive, and he loved to laugh and play. He definitely did not deserve to die this young.

RIP sweet little man. You will always be remembered here as a chimp with a big heart and a loud laughter.

Grant blog

Creative fundraising by star volunteer Jutta

We wanted to give full props to star volunteer Jutta Philipp from Heidelberg. She stayed at Tacugama’s eco-lodges with her partner Chris earlier in the year and they helped freshen up signboards and walking trails around the sanctuary.

Jutta applying fresh paint to Tacugama's signboard

Jutta applying fresh paint to Tacugama’s signboard

Once back in Germany, Jutta did not forget about the sanctuary but started convincing friends to help us out by adopting a chimp. Then, increasingly creative, she organised paid pony rides to raise funds for Tacugama!

FUNdraising by offering pony rides to children!

FUNdraising by offering pony rides to children!

She also let us know she had set up a Music Night with many local acts. The event was free, but featured a ‘Spendenbox’ (Donation box).

The music night featured many local artists from Heidelberg

The music night featured many local artists from Heidelberg


The 'Musik Session' in full swing

The ‘Musik Session’ in full swing

The event looks like a lot of fun!

Jutta's partner Chris manning the info booth

Jutta’s partner Chris manning the info booth

As well as the Music Night and the pony rides, Jutta has also raised much needed cash for the chimps by offering massages (at two different physiotherapy practices). We are so impressed by how dedicated and creative she has been in her support to the sanctuary!

Perry: extremely sick at arrival in ’11 & thriving now

A very weak and underweight Perry with iv access in left arm

A very weak and underweight Perry with iv access in left arm

We like to stand still occasionally and realize the progress made by an individual chimp. Perry was one of the smallest and weakest orphans ever received by Tacugama. He arrived in May 2011, very underweight, dehydrated and with skin wounds and a bad chest infection. Luckily, the vets (Dr. Rosa and Dr. Rupak) were able to achieve  iv access to give him more effective antibiotics this way. He also received supplemental oxygen and nebulisation therapy. We were kindly lent the machine by the British doctors at IMATT. See pics below.

Perry held by Dr. Rosa, connected to oxygen concentrator.

Perry held by Dr. Rosa, connected to oxygen concentrator.

Perry received nubulisation treatment during his first weeks at Tacugama

Perry received nubulisation treatment during his first weeks at Tacugama

After a few weeks he started showing improvement, with less coughing and increased appetite. After two months of veterinary care and TLC from Mama Posseh, he was a chubby and happy little fellow!

Two months after arrival, Perry had gotten quite chubby!

Two months after arrival, Perry had gotten quite chubby!

He was initially kept with the other recent arrival, Molly. Over the time, the baby group has increased in size. Perry is now one of the biggest chimps in the group and acts as a kindhearted ‘big brother’ for newer, smaller arrivals who appreciate his protection when they are being integrated in the group.

More than 3 years after arrival, Perry is the biggest chimp in the 'baby group'

More than 3 years after arrival, Perry is the biggest chimp in the ‘baby group’

Perry is a sweet natured 'older brother' for new arrivals now

Perry is a sweet natured ‘older brother’ for new arrivals now

Busy days at Tacugama despite of lock-down

On the third and last day of the lock-down in Sierra Leone, we must say, we are so incredible proud of our team. They all volunteered to camp at Tacugama during the lock-down, in order to make sure that the chimps could be well looked after, even though everyone in Sierra Leone had been asked to stay at home. The team has put lot of effort into keeping the spirit up and all have walked around with a smile on their face.
We have actually had some busy days here, also for the outreach team, who are not directly involved in the care of the chimpanzees, but who all have still come to work every day during the lock-down.
The whole team has set up camera traps near Tacugama’s fences, in order to repeat the study they did a few months ago, that revealed that we had many wild chimpanzees around the sanctuary and even the Endangered Jentink’s duiker.

Camera set
The outreach team has unfortunately also had their hands full destroying an illegal charcoal pit in the buffer zone to the Western Area Peninsular National Park, which surrounds Tacugama. The charcoal pit had destroyed a decent patch of forest, and we discovered it when we spotted smoke coming up from the patch.
Many people in the area around the National Park do not realize that the area has been promoted from Forest Reserve to National Park. It was supposed to be announced by the President at a meeting, but due to the Ebola crisis the meeting has been delayed. The new status of the area means more restrictions on the use of the forest. Just as hunting is banned in the park, charcoal burning is also not allowed.

Charcoal pit
However, the local communities should be aware of the changes, as along the roads leading to the National Park there are signs with the new status and the new restrictions.

Hopefully all locals will soon know about and respect the new status, and understand the value of having a beautiful and lush National Park in their back yards.


Thank you to the outreach team for helping protect the forest and for all the effort you have put into the work during the lock-down.
– And the chimps during the lock down? they have had quite a laid back attitude to the whole thing….Chimps relax


Ebola getting close to home

Rest in Peace Dr. Olivette Buck.

The fourth doctor has died in Sierra Leone, while bravely trying to fight the Ebola.

This time it has hit us a bit harder, as we knew Dr. Olivette very well. This year in March, she and Bala were both invited to witness the Annual Speech Day and Prize giving ceremony of the local Regent Primary School.

Dr. Olivette’s husband is the priest in our local church and the couple lived just a few kilometers away from Tacugama. Our thoughts go to her family and all the healthcare staff all over West Africa that every day risk their lifes to save others. They are true heroes.


Leadership book helps to raise money for Tacugama

Sweden Chimpanzee Trust has been a great supporter for Tacugama for years. This year was no exception. Last week, Tacugama received a generous donation of 100,000 Swedish Kroner (14,500 USD) from the Trust.
The money was raised by the sale of the book ““Ledarskap på apstadiet” (Apeology – evolution for managers and leaders’) written by the two Swedish authors Tommy Lundberg and Ola Berggren.

In this book the authors study chimpanzees to help identify the innate human needs that form the basis of how we interact in the workplace and in organizations. Genetically we are 98.6% the same as chimpanzees. By observing our tree-climbing cousins we can regain a natural awareness of what makes people feel good and perform well in a group.

The book takes the reader on an exciting journey from the jungles of Africa to our modern admass society – from hunting for food to hunting for profit, from the rainforest to offices, conference rooms and board meetings. Engaging, witty and informative, the book provides a wealth of practical managerial advice but is so accessible that it can be enjoyed by all employees. The book was nominated for ”Human Resource Book of the Year 2010” in Sweden.


Sweden Chimpanzee Trust and the authors Tommy Lundberg and Ola Berggren have donated more than one million Swedish kroner to chimpanzee projects in Africa over the last years. The money has been raised through the sale of the book.
For Tacugama, this great donation can make a world of difference and it will be used towards care of the chimpanzees, field outreach work and education.
Last week the money was handed over at a press conference in Stockholm. Unfortunately we were not able to be there, but Roxane from J.A.C.K sanctuary in DRC, who also received a donation, was there and talked about the chimpanzees in Africa and the threats they are facing.
Thank you so much Sweden Chimpanzee Trust and Ola and Tommy. We are incredible lucky have your support.



Baby Fina fully recovered and Back in Group

In March this year, our youngest chimp baby, Fina, fell severely ill with symptoms resembling meningitis. She was unable to sit up or eat solids. We had to remove her from her mum, Finda, to be able to treat her effectively. For some weeks it seemed like she would not make it, but thankfully, she turned a corner and slowly started improving in appetite and movements. We could not have done it without Posseh, our trusted ‘chimp mother’ who provided tender loving care.

Fina is much loved by all the other chimps

Fina is much loved by all the other chimps

By May, we felt Fina was well enough to be rejoined with her mum again. It took them over a week to get used to each other again, but then Finda’s milk production started again and they were as closely attached as before the illness. Over the last few weeks we reintegrated them with their group and it was great to see them out in the forest enclosure again with their old friends, who were very excited to be able to play with Fina again.

Fina hanging on to her mum, Finda (with productive mammaries on show!)

Fina hanging on to her mum, Finda (with productive mammaries on show!)

Appeal for help – Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone

Thank you all for all the concerned emails we have received the last weeks concerning the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone. The situation is definitely very worrying, but for now, all of us at Tacugama – both people and animals – are well, and we are taking all precautionary measures to stay safe and calm. We are running regular briefings with our staff to make sure everybody is update on the situation.

But, Sierra Leone is now in a state of emergency and not only are we concerned about how the situation is going to develop in the future. We are also concerned about our financial situation, as our visitors to the sanctuary and our lodges have almost completely disappeared within the last month. Normally a big part of our running costs, such as staff salaries and animal food are covered by the visitors and the lodges, which usually bring in about $3000 per month.

With the lack of visitors and the potential for the prices for animal food going up, we are very worried that the outbreak will seriously affect our finances. The food will potential also get harder to get, as Government has begun controlling movement of vehicles.
If you want to support us through this difficult time, please have a look at this link on how to donate to us: http://www.tacugama.com/how-you-can-help/donate-now

We will be very grateful for any support, big or small, received.

We will keep you updated on the situation and in the mean time do our best to keep anyone here safe. Our thoughts go out to the families that have already had victims to the Ebola.


The Tacugama Team