How many chimpanzees in Sierra Leone?

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.

Timber collection close to the entrance road for Outamba Kilimi National Park

Logging on the Koidu to Kenema road

Diamond mining on the Koidu to Kenema road

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.

Johnny and Bakarr receiving their tickets to the UK from Bala

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!

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  1. Christine C.
    Posted August 5, 2008 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Bala — thanks for the picture of Tomba…I actually recognized her little face before you even told us who she was…she is a stunning little chimpanzee!

    Good luck with the fund raising…you might want to try some unconventional routes like soliciting…they support a certain number of special projects every year. Here is the web link to check it out:

    I don’t know if it is practical or not, but an on-line store would be nice…some t-shirts, some coffee mugs…maybe someone can even help create a Chimp calendar…I know I would buy it!! Also, The US Federal Government has a massive Combined Federal Campaign (CFC)fundraiser that seeks donations to many, many charitable organizations from Federal employees. I am not sure what Tacugama’s status is, or if you would qualify, but it is certainly worth checking out to see if you can get added to the list of organizations. I am attaching a link to the donor organization requirements.

  2. Lucia Cristiana, Brasil
    Posted August 6, 2008 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    Yes, the destruction are alarming. But, I hope, it has been getting better slowly. Tombo is so beautiful and calm. Hopefully so different of that arrived. Thank you, Bala and all at Tacugama for your indispensable work. Thanks.

  3. Posted August 6, 2008 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    It’s my pleasure to be of any help for the chimps. I also try my best to share the news about Tacugama on my own blog which is dedicated to the endangered great apes.

    Thank you and your staff for doing so much for the chimps. Even the pose is almost the same, the beam on Tombo’s face is absolutely different!

    I also like Christine C’s idea about trying new ways of fund raising. An On-line shop is also a good idea! I’d want to buy Tacugama T-shirts, send Tacugama Xmas cards, hang Tacugama calendars, watch Tacugama DVDs, etc..

  4. Posted August 7, 2008 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    I want a T-shirt with Tombo on it.


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