Category Archives: Community Outreach Programme

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.

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Tusk Trust Logo

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!

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 www.schoolforsalone.org 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!

Busy days at Tacugama despite of lock-down

On the third and last day of the lock-down in Sierra Leone, we must say, we are so incredible proud of our team. They all volunteered to camp at Tacugama during the lock-down, in order to make sure that the chimps could be well looked after, even though everyone in Sierra Leone had been asked to stay at home. The team has put lot of effort into keeping the spirit up and all have walked around with a smile on their face.
We have actually had some busy days here, also for the outreach team, who are not directly involved in the care of the chimpanzees, but who all have still come to work every day during the lock-down.
The whole team has set up camera traps near Tacugama’s fences, in order to repeat the study they did a few months ago, that revealed that we had many wild chimpanzees around the sanctuary and even the Endangered Jentink’s duiker.

Camera set
The outreach team has unfortunately also had their hands full destroying an illegal charcoal pit in the buffer zone to the Western Area Peninsular National Park, which surrounds Tacugama. The charcoal pit had destroyed a decent patch of forest, and we discovered it when we spotted smoke coming up from the patch.
Many people in the area around the National Park do not realize that the area has been promoted from Forest Reserve to National Park. It was supposed to be announced by the President at a meeting, but due to the Ebola crisis the meeting has been delayed. The new status of the area means more restrictions on the use of the forest. Just as hunting is banned in the park, charcoal burning is also not allowed.

Charcoal pit
However, the local communities should be aware of the changes, as along the roads leading to the National Park there are signs with the new status and the new restrictions.

SignNP
Hopefully all locals will soon know about and respect the new status, and understand the value of having a beautiful and lush National Park in their back yards.

Valley

Thank you to the outreach team for helping protect the forest and for all the effort you have put into the work during the lock-down.
– And the chimps during the lock down? they have had quite a laid back attitude to the whole thing….Chimps relax

 

Tacugama’s outreach team’s latest work

The outreach team has just spent 3 weeks in Yiben in the Koinadugu district setting up camera traps and carrying out reconnaissance work.

The objectives of the Camera Trap study were:

To assess the status of wild chimpanzees and other mammals, to learn about the biodiversity richness and to characterize and map the vegetation landscape.

The camera triggers when the infrared sensor detects movement and temperature differences, for example when an animal passes by. It does not have flash to avoid disturbing the animal normal activities or scare them.

The aim of reconnaissance is to determine the distribution and relative abundance of medium and large mammal species and to characterize the vegetation.

Distance along the reconnaissance was measured with a hip chain and a GPS track log. The team walked along predetermined routes at a speed of 1-2 km 1hr. The field teams consisted of at least four people, including two observers, one compass bearer and one or more local guides. One of the observers focused on the ground, looking for signs such as dung and feeding remains. The other observer focused on looking up for animals and other signs (such as chimpanzee nests in the trees).

 

On each transect, the following variables were recorded:

–  Mammal sign: visual sightings, feeding remains, dung, and vocalizations.

–  Human sign: Including signs of power-saw logging, hunting (hunters, snares, hunting camps, gun shells), human trails, and farms.

–  Vegetation type.

 

Now that the team is back, and busy analysing their data. Soon we will be able to share more about their findings in the area. Enjoy our fabulous photos for now!

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edward and yirahsmall

cotton tree Kondembaiasmall

Using the Pedal Power Cinema for Conservation Education

At the moment Andrea Pawel is carrying out research for her Master at Tacugama. Here Andrea’s first report:
I have recently come to Sierra Leone to work at Tacugama for 3 months. I am currently doing my masters degree at the University of Kent in the UK and will be carrying out my thesis research along side the education programme that Tacugama currently have in place. Ethel (Education and Communication coordinator) and I have been visiting schools around the Western Area Peninsula Reserve and targeting grade 5/6 students to take part in a fun and simple experiment.

Our aim is to assess conservation messages through two different documentary films screened in various schools around the reserve. We get the children to participate by drawing what they think of when we say the word ‘chimpanzee’ with no props or prompts. We follow up by asking them questions about their drawings. They then watch a pre-selected film chosen by us and after carry out the same drawing and question exercise. We will hopefully be able to extract any changes in their attitudes and knowledge as a result of the film, which will be very useful for future conservation education efforts.

So far we have pilot tested the study in two schools in Regent, Logos Academy and God’s Army. The films fascinated the children and it was incredible to see their eyes light up in excitement! To run the film we are using the Pedal Power Cinema kindly donated by the Great Ape Film Institute, allowing us to reach the most remote schools in villages that may never have had the opportunity to watch films otherwise. We will keep you updated with our progress; in the meantime, enjoy the photos!

Gods Army 5

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Logos2

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