Author Archives: tacugama

TUSK Trust Supports Western Area Peninsula National Park Protection

Our Patrol Guards help to dismantle and confiscate snares to protect the wildlife

Our Patrol Guards help to dismantle and confiscate snares to protect the wildlife

Tacugama Community Outreach Programme has received generous support from the Tusk Trust to continue and increase patrolling efforts within the Western Area Peninsula National Park (WAPNP). The Team is excited to receive support for more patrol guards, intense training, and equipment to effectively patrol and assess the wildlife and ecologically significant habitat around Tacugama and the greater WAPNP. WAPNP is home to a number of important flora and fauna, but is facing significant threats due to land grabbing and clearing, hunting, charcoal pits, and more. Since 2012, our patrol guards recovered 3 illegal charcoal pits, 146 snares, and 19 shotgun shells. This area is home to two groups of chimps, at an estimated 8-10 adults, 3-4 adolescents, and 3 infants (Garriga 2012).

wild chimps

One of our patrol guards, Joseph Marah says “The constant presence of patrol guards alerts the nearby communities to stay out. When we meet people in these areas, we are able to sensitize them about the illegality of certain activities and word spreads quickly throughout the communities.” At Tacugama, we believe that raising awareness is the key to environmental protection and that we can work with communities to take ownership of conserving their land and wildlife. Tacugama is grateful to Tusk Trust for the support to continue protecting this area for watershed protection, a thriving forest, and a beautiful home for wildlife.


Tusk Trust Logo

Njala University Students Visit the Sanctuary

Recently, Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary hosted students from the Natural Resources Management and Environment Department from Njala University had. 15 of the third year students, accompanied by their Lecturer, Dr. Rashid Ansumana from the department went on the tour, where important knowledge sharing like understanding the importance of chimps, their life cycle, and protection of their natural habitats and similarities to humans. Class Representative, Yayah Fullah Kamara says, “We are so excited to come and learn about Tacugama and what they are doing in terms of rehabilitation of chimps, primate research activities, environmental education, community development and protection of wild chimps in community bushes.”

This field trip allowed students to understand the different species of chimps and their geographic range in Africa from West- East Africa as well as key threats affecting the Western chimpanzee. Lecturer, Dr. Rashid Ansumana says, “This trip has exposed the student to the wildlife as a key component in natural resources management. The students have limited facts on chimps that justifies why they are endangered in their usual coursework so this trip has allowed them to learn more about chimps and their habitat and perhaps contribute to their University work”. Tacugama was excited to host these students and inspire them to protect the wildlife of Sierra Leone and begin to explore the opportunities for wildlife management in the professional world.

Third Year University students learning about chimpanzee behavior

Third Year University students learning about chimpanzee behavior

Teachers Workshop: Spreading Conservation Awareness across the Peninsula

Teachers receiving Conservation Workbooks

Teachers receiving Conservation Workbooks

On Monday, 30th November 2015, a one-day Teacher Coordinator’s workshop was organized by the Outreach Team for the effective delivery of Environmental Education in urban schools for the 2016 academic year. 19 teachers from 10 schools around the Western Area Peninsula National Park became certified as coordinators for our school programme, TKEEP. Teachers took a tour of the Sanctuary, became familiar with our Teachers Handbooks and Kids workbooks*, and brainstormed activities to further engage students during the next school year. The Teachers who volunteer as coordinators are very enthusiastic about the program. Cyril Kortu, Teacher Coordinator for one year states, “Environmental Education that includes wildlife conservation is vital in the fight against global warning, therefore, we must target the children at a tender age if we want to promote positive change towards environmental protection.” We’re happy to have Teachers and sponsors who make this programme possible!

*We are grateful to LUSH Cosmetics who sponsored both the Workshop and all of the workbooks!

A teacher giving a mock environmental education lesson

A teacher giving a mock environmental education lesson

Environmental Education Students Visit the Sanctuary

Students playing a game demonstrating the cleverness of chimps!

Students playing a game demonstrating the cleverness of chimps!

The 2015 Tacugama Kids Environmental Education Programme (TKEEP) school year came to a close with three days of field visits to the Sanctuary from the 25th-27th of November. A total of 197 students accompanied by their teachers from seven schools near Tacugama visited the Sanctuary. The students had a fun-filled day to showcase what they’ve learned in the classroom over the course of this past academic year. Having the students get to see the chimpanzees really brings the TKEEP message home. “In experiencing nature first hand I now know why conservation is important and why we must protect the environment,” said Pinky Myers, TKEEP member from Logos Elementary School.

Students went on a tour of the sanctuary, watched Oscar, a movie about a young chimpanzee growing up in the wild, played conservation games and performed dramas. The day was full of learning and laughs for both the students and the staff at Tacugama. “It’s important that we spread the correct message about the chimpanzees to these students. From this field trip, you can tell that the students have learned a lot over the course of one year,” says Education Officer, Ethel Sillah. At Tacugama, we believe that all students should have an opportunity to visit, see, and learn about this flagship species so unique to West Africa.

Students watching the chimpanzees eat, play, and interact!

Students watching the chimpanzees eat, play, and interact!

Community Capacity Building: Land Use Planning Workshop

The past month, the Outreach Team visited 3 of the project sites in Moyamba District to continue capacity building among the local community leaders and elders focusing mainly on Land Use Planning Workshop.

The Land Use Planning Workshop was held for community leaders in partnership with the Paramount Chief’s representative to teach community leaders on long-term land use management plans to promote conservation. Outreach Officer, David Momoh explains “Land use planning is an important component of natural resources management and building the capacity of local leaders to understand their natural resources in their communities.” The participants were prompted to map out their communities and discuss future land use plans to promote biodiversity conservation. Aerial images were also shown to the community to better understand their current land use. This was especially effective as it allowed the leaders to visualize how much of their forest had been degraded because of farming and other various pressures. The Chief’s speaker used an analogy that was close to home stating “Farmers only manage when their food becomes small, eating as much as they want during the harvesting period, but leaving little for the planting season. It is the best practice to plan out when you’re food is plenty. In this same way, that’s how forests should be managed.” Communities were encouraged to make a plan now, while their forests are still intact.

The land use planning facilitated better community management for 18 local community leaders . The workshop urged the leaders to set up governance structures to begin creating by-laws for the protection of the forest and chimps and environments. “We encourage people to diversity their livelihoods in order to manage their resources sustainably”, Outreach Officer Edward Marah says.

The Outreach Team will continue to host workshops for community leaders their natural resources and take ownership of their land!



Moseilelo School Construction Project: Promoting Conservation Education

TKEEP moseilelo

Tacugama has partnered with Schools for Salone, a United States based non-profit that raises funding to build schools in Sierra Leone. Schools for Salone, in partnership with Programme for Children, have built over 19 schools, channeling funding to a local NGO, Programme for Children. Tacugama has partnered with both to construct a school for Moseilelo Community.

Moseilelo area has been partnering with TCOP for the past 5 years to protect the Western chimpanzee through improved natural resource and wildlife management. A key component of their cooperation has been to help Tacugama to spread conservation awareness throughout their communities. In 2012, it was confirmed through camera trapping and reconnaissance walks, that two groups of wild chimpanzees were living in the surrounding forest, Kasillah Hills (Garriga, R.M., 2013). Six communities are established on the perimeter of the forest, with an estimated population of 1,317. The forest patch has been fragmented into two patches and is increasingly being encroached each farming season. As population begins to increase, there is an urgent need to continue raising awareness in these communities and shifting behavior change towards conservation practices.

As the Moseilelo Community has shown great efforts in implementing activities that promote conservation and protection of these groups of chimps, education facilities are lacking, hindering an improved future. On March 15th, 1995, rebels attacked Moseilelo community occupying the town for about 2 months. During this time, they slaughtered all cattle, raided and burned houses, and burnt down the church where school was being held. The community has not recovered educational facilities since, but still value education. 70-100 students typically gather in a community member’s home to learn because of the difficult travel to government schools. The nearest properly constructed government primary school is 14 miles away, and the nearest government secondary school is 5 miles away, in which students have to cross a river by canoe to get to. It’s estimated that there are about 220 students in the area, but many don’t attend the ‘community school’ due to lack of space and materials. Rather, student-age children are taken to the farm to work. Ethel Sillah, Education Coordinator states “A proper school structure is key to allowing students to attend school rather than the farm. Parents will know that their students are learning in a conducive environment and will send them to school. I believe that educating the students at a young age about conservation will lead to sustainable action in the future.” TCOP has partnered with Schools for Salone to assist in the construction of a proper school, to include 4 classrooms, a teacher’s office, secure storeroom and septic toilets to increase student attendance and work through the school to promote environmental education awareness, preserving the forest and the chimpanzees for the future.

If you’d like to help, please support this project by donating at and writing Tacugama on the Memo Line! All donations are tax deductible!

Moseilelo's current school structure, students, and volunteer teachers

Moseilelo’s current school structure, students, and volunteer teachers

Film Fun in Moyamba

Community members watching a film about the Great Apes

Community members watching a film about the Great Apes

During the past two months, the Outreach Team has been visiting the local communities to continue capacity building of the locally established conservation committees, monitor livelihood projects, conduct research, and deliver community-wide sensitization.

At night, after all other work is done, the Outreach Team showcases a film in the local barri (meeting place). Conservation Manager, Lauren Masey says “Showing films is an excellent forum for sensitization, targeting individuals that would not otherwise be a part of our meetings, such as older youths and diligent farmers. It also gives communities a visual on how human-like chimpanzees are.” After viewing films, community members are asked what they learned. They often respond that they learned that chimpanzees breastfeed just like our women and take care of their families, just like we do.

Films shows have captured an audience of over 600 adults and 300 children in the past two months. “The films discourage communities to hunt and consume bushmeat and display the potential effects this may have on both humans and the environment. They encourage people to diversify their livelihoods and to manage their resources sustainably,” Outreach Officer Edward Marah says.

Film nights are both fun and educational and help us get the whole community involved in our sensitization campaign.

Film nights are fun for the whole community!

Film nights are fun for the whole community!

Community Biodiversity Conservation Learning Exchange with STEWARD

This past month, one of our Outreach Officers had the opportunity to attend a learning exchange trip with USAID-funded and US Forest Service support programme, STEWARD, Sustainable and Thriving Environments for West African Regional Development. The group travelled to both Sierra Leone and Guinea sites to look at the benefit of STEWARD’s programmes in communities. Tacugama was excited to see that a lot of our efforts coincide with one another, but also picked up some new ideas on how to approach community conservation. STEWARD shared their eco-stove, Farmer Field School (FFS), agroforestry, Village Savings and Loans projects and how they impacted the communities. Outreach Officer Yirah Koroma says “It’s was beneficial that STEWARD took us on this learning exchange trip, so that conservation organizations can implement similar activities all throughout the country.” Thanks STEWARDS for your conservation efforts in Sierra Leone!

Tacugama Community Outreach Programme is implementing similar projects in our area of Moyamba District, but we are also interested in learning more about successful projects and discussing lessons learnt with other conservation programmes. We believe that it the joint effort of many organizations and across many sectors that can continue to bring about a positive change to Sierra Leone.

STEWARD Farmer Field School Testing Sustainable Agriculture Techniques

STEWARD Farmer Field School Testing Sustainable Agriculture Techniques

Appropriate technology Eco-stove created to reduce household firewood consumption

Appropriate technology Eco-stove created to reduce household firewood consumption

Tacugama Supports Community Development through Agriculture Intiatives

Community Meeting Center Built with Tacugama Supported Livelihood

Community Meeting Center Built with Tacugama Supported Livelihood

Tacugama provided Moseilelo a garri processing machine to help generate income, providing an alternative to hunting and the sale of bushmeat for the community. Garri is the product of grinding a cassava tuber into the garri machine to make grated pieces that can be roasted, creating the final product, garri. One 50 kg bag is sold at about $10 locally, and $15 dollars in Freetown. The machine has directly supported 425 people and is rented out locally to an additional 890 people.

Without the machine, the communities create a local tool, corrugated zinc roofing, poke holes in it, and manually grate the cassava. This process can take up to three days, whereas the use of the machine allows communities to process that same amount in about ten minutes. Chief Steven said that the machine has not only benefited himself, but the whole community.

Tacugama set up a Babu (Krio word for chimpanzee) committee, to help drive local projects and make sure benefits are shared amongst the community. The committee rents out the machine for $1 per day, and have earned enough to support the construction of a community meeting place. In Sierra Leonean culture, each community has a barri, to hold special meetings for the community. The community prides itself on their meeting place.

Tacugama is happy to see that the community has greatly benefited because of the support we have offered. Yirah Koroma, Outreach Officer states “A gathering place for the community is essential to maintaining cohesiveness and proper governance of a community. By having an official structure where they can meet, important decisions and by-laws can be made. The Moseilelo Community has protected their group of chimpanzees in the nearby forest, and we hope that local law continues to enforce this.” The Outreach Team has high hopes that the community will continue to develop sustainably while protecting the wild chimp!

Pangolin and other great animals caught on camera trap

A few days ago our outreach team collected the camera traps that they had placed in Western Area Peninsula National Park six weeks earlier.
The cameras had captured some very interesting images.
For the first time we had been able to catch a tree pangolin on the cameras. The pangolin is a very special scaly nocturnal animal, which lives mainly of termites and ants. Despite the name Tree pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) this species of pangolin is equally at home in trees and on the ground. Unfortunately the tree pangolin’s status is “vulnerable” and the species is declining in number due to bushmeat hunting and demand on the international markets, as the scales are used as traditional medication both in Africa and Asia. In krio, the local language here, the pangolin is called “shame beef” as it will roll up and hide its head, when caught by a hunter. We hope this one will never be caught by a hunter but only by our camera traps.


Another interesting animal which was captured on the cameras is the Black Duiker Cephalophus niger. It is a rare duiker, which suffers from overhunting. They are very adaptable animals and can live well in degraded habitats.

Black duiker

We also found this great picture of a group of Sooty Mangabeys (Cercocebus atys) on the traps. The sooty mangabey is still widespread in West Africa and is not threatened, despite being easy to trap due to their ground-foraging habits. We often see groups of them near Tacugama, though they don’t come near the chimpanzees.

Lastly, we had several pictures of chimpanzees with youngsters. It is great to see that the small population of Western Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) living in the Western Area are reproducing well. During the National Chimpanzee Census Project, carried out by Tacugama in 2009-2010, it was estimated that the Western Area National Park holds a population of up to 55 individuals of chimpanzees. It would be interesting to repeat the study and find out if the population has increased over the last five years.

Chimp with baby

Sources: and “The Kingdon Field Guide To African Mammals” by Jonathan Kingdon.