There is no accurate understanding of current wild chimpanzee numbers in Sierra Leone. What we know is that the forest cover today is only 5% of what it was 100 years ago and that human encroachment of key habitat areas continues at an alarming rate.
Chimpanzees are an endangered species (suggesting a high likelihood of extinction in the future if no action is taken to halt their decline). Sierra Leone is home to one of the two most endangered chimpanzee sub-species, the Western Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus).
We need to have a much stronger understanding within Sierra Leone of how many chimpanzees there are in the wild, where the key habitat areas are and how we can protect them. Ensuring the future of chimpanzees in the wild is a priority for us all at Tacugama. Thanks to support from the Pan African Sanctuaries Alliance (PASA) team we’ve started to plan to undertake a national census of chimpanzees in Sierra Leone. We’re submitting our proposal to key funding organisations to try to make the census a reality – hopefully starting after the rains subside towards the end of this year. We’re trying to do this on a low a budget as possible while still generating scientifically valid data – however we expect that it will cost around US$200,000. We’re making progress but if anyone reading this blog can suggest organisations that we could approach for funding we’d be pleased to hear from you.
PASA have provided funding that has allowed us to send two Sierra Leonean field researchers to the UK last week. They’ve taken part in a workshop run by the International Primatological Society (IPS) that will enhance their field data collection and analysis skills in preparation for the census. It’s a good start to the project and we’re really excited to keep the ball rolling now. We’ll keep you updated.
Back to the chimpanzees that we can count now. Our new arrivals are making steady progress. We’ve been trying to get some good pictures of Tombo for you but she loves a big cuddle so much that it’s impossible to get a picture any different to the one we posted recently. Hopefully you can see that she’s looking stronger even though the pose is incredibly familiar…!
We’re also continuing with Boyze’s introduction to Philip’s group. It’s been a long, steady job as Boyze’s not great at picking up the moods of his new companions, he is learning and hopefully it won’t be too long before he’s a full time member of the group.
Thanks to our new recent donors – Yang, Tanya and Anita. Tanya, your timing for the community education vehicle is great, more news on that soon. Yang, thanks for the contribution towards food and veterinary supplies, and Anita for running costs – always needed!