We have another new chimpanzee at Tacugama – an adult female of about 15 who goes by the name of Urgent (as apparently she’s always in a rush for her food).
Following information we received from the Gola Forest Conservation Programme, the end of last week saw us travelling to the south-east of Sierra Leone, past Kenema to the village of Gorahun. We’d been told of Urgent’s plight and after some checking around realised that, as she is a big chimp, the only option was for us to go and get her. After a total of 5 hours driving and an overnight stop in Kenema, early Friday morning we were joined by Jessica from the Gola Forest team to drive another 2 hours on very rough roads by the edge of the Gola forest (passing the chiefdom where Gaura was found).
Our first contact was with the Paramount Chief – the traditional leader of the area – to confirm that we were coming to confiscate the chimpanzee and to explain the reasons why. We also gave some donations of clothes and children’s toys for the villagers. (We occasionally receive these donations from our supporters and they are well received by the communities that we visit). The Paramount Chief then called the owner of the chimpanzee, Jusufa Sama, who took us to meet Urgent.
It was a sad sight; she was chained by the neck to a post and only able to move about a meter away. A small tree provided her with very limited shade and the area was covered in excrement.
Her owner seemed to care about her but clearly had no understanding of the needs of a chimpanzee. Most of the village gathered to watch as I introduced myself to Urgent.
It turned out that Mr Sama found Urgent with a hunter in a neighbouring village eight years ago and decided to keep her for himself. I don’t think she’s been chained for the whole eight years but probably as she stopped being a cute small chimp and became a strong adult the chain was the only way for him to keep control over Urgent.
Urgent was sedated so that she could be realeased from her chain, loaded into a travelling cage and made comfortable for the long journey ahead. We had an enthusiastic escort from the village children chanting “Urgent, Urgent” as we set off on the eight hour journey back to Tacugama.
She’s now under observation in quarantine, a bigger chimp than usual for Posseh to keep an eye on. All in all the rescue cost us about $250 and any support we can receive towards this would be much appreciated.
Baby Tombo who arrived a few days ago is suffering from dysentery and on medication under the watchful eye of Dr Rosa. As I write this entry we’re awaiting the arrival of another baby chimp on the way from the Gola forest area, this time Panguma – we don’t have much information about him yet. We’re clearly in for another busy time with new arrivals and we’ll keep you updated on their progress.