Urgent Arrival

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).

Village near Gaura’s home

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.

Meeting the Chief (in green)

Paramount Chief (left) with our sensitisation posters

Village children with their donated toys

Meeting 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.

First sight of Urgent


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.

Bala and 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.

Mr Sama with 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.

Breaking the chain

Safely loaded – Mr Sama says goodbye

The kids say goodbye

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.

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  1. Wanda, Atlanta
    Posted July 17, 2008 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Hi Bala, just sent a little will try to do more – as sad as the story is for Urgent – I am almost happy to see an “adult” saved – it seems the olders one never get a chance or very few do — I pray she makes it thru and joins chimps like her soon!

  2. Christine C.
    Posted July 17, 2008 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    I echo Wanda’s sentiments, it is nice to see an adult chimp get a second chance. It does not seem as if she was abused by her owner (other than by ignorance)so hopefully her transition to Tacaguma will be neither too difficult or traumatic. As always, you all amaze me so much with the great efforts you go through to help these wonderful animals…the best to you and little Tomba too! I am going to set up a small monthly donation to help out wherever needed.

  3. Annie
    Posted July 17, 2008 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Poor baby! She does look fairly healthy at least….just hate to see her on a chain like that…glad Mr. Sama gave her up…sounds like a lot of chimps coming in! I will try to donate soon! Thanks for helping them.

  4. Posted July 17, 2008 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Bala, thank you so much for all the efforts put into rescuing Urgent. Please keep us updated on her progress and I’ll try to send a donation in a few weeks. You must have a very trusting face because she seemed calm reaching out to you.


  5. Paula
    Posted July 17, 2008 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Amazing story Bala, thank you so much for this. I hope we can help to keep Urgent and all your other ‘friends’.

  6. Lucia Cristiana, Brasil
    Posted July 17, 2008 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Hello, Bala. Urgent knew immediately that you are a trustworthy and special friend. Thank you so much for rescue that beautiful chimp and give her a second chance. God bless you, my friend. You must be very busy, but we will appreciate news on Urgent, Tombo, Junior, Gaura, Mr Solo, Philip, and all at Tacugama.

  7. Catherine Mollyneaux
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Dear Bala & friends at Tacugama,
    I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of Urgent. Perhaps she died of captive chimp syndrome.

    May she rest in peace now and play with the other chimps in the big jungle in the sky.

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Tacugama » An Urgent Problem… on October 14, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    […] adult chimpanzees is very difficult and often unsuccessful. In the case of Urgent and her history, it may well be impossible.  Our goal is to integrate her to Gorilla and Baba’s group. Gorilla […]

  2. By Tacugama » Return to the Trees on December 5, 2008 at 12:00 am

    […] and able to climb trees, for probably the first time in her life. You may remember that she came to Tacugama in July this year having spent at least the last 8-10 years tied to a tree by a short chain. As far as we […]

  3. By A very sad day – Tacugama on March 2, 2011 at 10:41 am

    […] to a tree for many of her 17 years, Urgent came to us in July 2008 (you can read more about her here) and quickly became one of our big personalities and a chimp adoption ambassador for Tacugama. […]

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