Category Archives: Education

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

Next generation of conservationists at Tacugama

Today, Tacugama welcomed students from God’s Army and Regent Elementary for a sanctuary tour and education session with Ethel our Education Coordinator.

Shool 1
After seeing the chimps in their forest enclosures the children watched conservation films addressing issues such as habitat loss, crop raiding and snares. They’ve all been given homework and we’ll be following up to see how much they learnt.

School 2


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




Friends of Tacugama Scholarship to God’s Army Preparatory School

The Tacugama Kids Environmental Education Programme-TKEEP is geared towards empowering school children in conserving their environments and wildlife. In this vein, through Friends of Tacugama UK, our long time supporter Simon Carr has helped fund scholarships to sixteen school children of the God’s Army Preparatory School at Regent Village, located near the sanctuary.

This scholarship is a form of assistance to these under-privileged children to pay for their school fees, as otherwise it would be difficult for their families to afford these fees.  In an official ceremony at the school, the scholarships were handed out to the deserving students by HH Judge Simon Carr and our education co-ordinator Ethel Sillah. The children appeared happy and slightly overawed; we feel very fortunate to have been able to provide this opportunity to keep such a good number of hard working youngsters in the educational system and we wish them all the best for the future!

Simon Carr handing over the scholarship to a children

Simon Carr handing over the scholarship to a child from Regent

Friends of Tacugama, Simon Carr and our education coordinator Ethel Sillah

Some of the many scholarship recipients with Simon Carr and our education co-ordinator Ethel Sillah

Latest news from our research project studying wild chimps

Last week, our research team went to Port Loko district to retrieve 16 camera traps set up last December in this study area. The aim of the study is to obtain data on the wild chimpanzee population living in human-disturbed habitats. At the same time, the data obtained may help to estimate biodiversity richness and to learn about the impact of crop raiding by chimpanzees and other animals. The principle of camera trapping is simple: an automatic camera is positioned in the forest and passing animals trigger the shutter, taking their own photograph. At the same time, interviews were carried out across several villages to obtain information on the wildlife biodiversity, people’s attitudes towards chimpanzees and other animals, and the impact of wildlife crop raiding.

Joseph Marah interviewing a villager

Joseph Marah interviewing a villager


Konkofa Marah retrieving the camera tra

Konkofa Marah retrieving the camera trap


Picture of a bushbuck

Picture of a bushbuck

A female chimpanzee with her infant

A female chimpanzee with an infant


This project has been partly funded with a grant from the Rufford Foundation (Rufford Small Grants Fund).

More info can be found in our blog update from last year.


Festive King Bruno book launch Freetown: conservation is key

British High Commissioner Peter West, Tacugama's founder Bala Amerasekaran, Head of Delegation EU Peter Versteeg, Dr. Sama Banya, OBE and author Paul Glynn.

British High Commissioner Peter West, Tacugama’s founder Bala Amerasekaran, Head of Delegation EU Peter Versteeg, Dr. Sama Banya, OBE and author Paul Glynn.

Saturday 9 November was an important evening for Tacugama, as it was the official local launch of King Bruno. This beautifully illustrated book by Paul Glynn tells the story of Tacugama’s founding chimpanzee with the aim to educate young people about chimpanzees, conservation and development.

The representative of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), Lovetta Juanah.

The representative of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), Lovetta Juanah.

Bruno’s life from orphaned baby to adult male roaming the forests after his escape in 2006 has taken on a mythical quality amongst many inhabitants of Freetown. Though the book is aimed at twelve year olds, adults will find much to enjoy in the evocative storytelling as well.

The importance of the Freetown launch was to create publicity locally for the book with the added aim of getting it into the school curriculum.

The main message repeated by the speakers was that conservation of the forests is key, to protect the habitat of chimps and other wildlife. Bruno can help underscore the importance of this message in an individual story, that will speak to people’s hearts.

Upcoming talent Janet P performing the catchy 'Tacugama song' with local dancers from Regent.

Upcoming talent Janet P performing the catchy ‘Tacugama song’ with local dancers from Regent.

Bala and Paul Glynn signing the books for keen buyers at the end of the launch.

Bala and Paul Glynn signing the books for keen buyers at the end of the launch.


You can buy your own copy of the book at Tacugama or through or

Many thanks to Airtel and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) who made the launch possible, as well as British Airways (who sponsored Paul Glynn’s flight) and SLBL and the Freetown Golf Club, where the event was held. Speakers Lovetta Juanah (EPA), Dr. Sama Banya, OBE, Isa Blyden, British High Commissioner Peter West, Head of Delegation EU Peter Versteeg and BBC interviewer Umaru Fofana helped make the evening a success.

“Inside Tacugama” on national radio

Recently, we launched a radio show ‘Inside Tacugama’ hosted by Ethel Sillah, our Education Officer, an experienced presenter. Our 30 minute show was broadcast live across five main Sierra Leone radio stations – Universal Radio, Sky Radio, 98.1 Radio Democracy, African Young Voices and Star Radio. We chose this medium as in Sierra Leone, small battery powered radio sets are widespread, whereas only few people have access to television.

Willie, Yirah and Ethel at Star Radio

Willie, Yirah and Ethel at Star Radio

Accompanied by our head of care staff Willie Tucker and outreach officer Yirah Koroma, “Inside Tacugama” aimed to sensitize the general public about Tacugama and the various projects we run from community outreach to our policies on deforestation and wildlife protection. We received several phone calls and text messages with interesting questions, feedback on our work and messages of appreciation. Listeners were also encouraged to visit the sanctuary to join a guided tour, see our chimpanzees and help save their forest. For more information on our opening times click here.
A heartwarming thank you text  message read ‘I say bravo to all the workers at Tacugama for preserving our forest’ from a Friend of Tacugama.

Ethel, Yirah and Willie

Ethel, Yirah and Willie

Tacugama team works to reduce human-chimpanzee conflict

As well as caring for confiscated chimps at the sanctuary, Tacugama also works to protect wild chimpanzees and their habitats in Sierra Leone.

The Sierra Leone National Chimpanzee Census (SLNCCP) completed by Tacugama in 2010 showed that over half of the wild chimpanzees in Sierra Leone are living outside of protected areas. In many of these areas the natural forest habitat is being lost as a result of activities such as logging, agriculture & mining bringing chimpanzees closer to human settlements. Wild chimps are trying to adapt to survive in these changing environments but this can bring problems when they raid farm crops to replace forest foods that are no longer available. Human-wildlife conflict is an increasing problem and in late 2011 Tacugama started pilot projects in some affected communities.  These projects are working with the communities to provide alternative livelihoods and create guardianship for the wild chimpanzees still living in the area.

We have recently started a research project to study the wild chimps in two of these communities.

A villager points out which animals she has observed in the area.

A villager points out which animals she has observed in the area.

The project, led by Rosa Garriga, is being implemented in the Moyamba district and consists of two parts: community interviews and a camera trap study. The interviews aim to gain more information about crop losses due to animals and the role chimpanzees play in these losses.  They also help the research team to determine the areas where wild chimpanzees are active and so where camera traps should be set.

Konkofa Marah and Yirah Koroma preparing the camera trap.

Konkofa Marah and Yirah Koroma preparing the camera trap.

The first field trip in December involved 50 interviews in 10 villages and placing 16 camera traps. These are remotely activated cameras that are equipped with motion sensors and take pictures only if something is moving past. The analysis of the interviews and the photos captured will be shared with the communities to help with generating ideas as to how human-chimpanzee / human-wildlife conflict can be resolved.

The team had to cross some difficult terrain to get to the research site!

The team had to cross some difficult terrain to get to the research site!

The team are now back in Moyamba to undertake further interviews and reposition the cameras. Hopefully we’ll have captured some interesting photos that we’ll be able to share with you in future blogs. We are grateful for the support that we’ve received for developing and analysing the questionnaires from Tatyana Humle and the Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent in the UK. This important project has been made possible thanks to grants from Barcelona Zoo, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund and Lush Cosmetics.

The view after a hard day's work.

The view after a hard day’s work.


Help – Education Volunteer Needed!

Just before Christmas we said our fond farewells to Stephanie Brown who’s done a great job in supporting our local education co-ordinator to run and develop the Tacugama Kids Environmental Education Programme.  Stephanie came to Tacugama as a volunteer from the UK in September and has used her experience in education, biology and the environment to help deliver our programme across our partner junior secondary schools in the Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve.  She’s now gone back to the UK to continue her career in teaching and we’d like to give her big thanks and wish her all the best.

Stephanie with some younger pupils at FAWE school

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Tacugama Kids Programme 2009/10 kicks off with great success!

Hi, this is Stephanie, the new volunteer for the TKP. I have been here for 2 months, arriving just in time to organise the start of the 2009/10 programme. The Tacugama Kids Programme started in 2007, you can find out how the programme started and how the project progressed. Please read on to find out about the success of this year’s programme!

We’ve had smiling faces all around with an exciting and successful start to this year’s Tacugama Kids’ Programme (TKP). This year the programme is working with 11-13 year old students in 11 rural schools around the Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve (WAPFR). The main objective of the program is to encourage a positive change in attitudes and practices with regards to local environmental issues.

Making educational posters to teach their friends about chimpanzees and rainforest conservation

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