At the end of last week a fire started in one of our two staff quarter buildings in the late evening Although the alarm was raised quickly and with a tough battle we were able to stop the fire spreading to neighbouring buildings, we were unable to save Tacugama’s very first base at the sanctuary. Very fortunately nobody was hurt during the incident while the team battled hard to save what they could. After 4 hours the fire finally burned itself out having completely destroyed the historic building.
The following morning brought the true realisation of what we had lost. Twelve solar panels that powered the fences for some of the chimpanzee enclosures together with the energisers and electronic control equipment and batteries. Three of our staff lost all their possessions. The store in the building also contained spare wheels/tyres for our vehicles, construction timber and maintenance tools for the sanctuary. We estimate that the total cost of replacing what was lost and re-constructing the staff accommodation will reach almost US$30,000 – it’s a major blow for us at Tacugama.
The immediate need was to ensure the security of the chimps – luckily we are in the process of constructing a new enclosure set and had already taken delivery of solar panels and control equipment. We were able to rapidly deploy these to ensure that the chimps could stay in the enclosures, then came the big clean up.
We’ve been unable to identify the cause of the fire. Again we can only be thankful that nobody was hurt. The whole team at camp worked incredibly hard to clear up – we had been due to receive a large group of guests throughout the day from a rare cruise boat visit to Sierra Leone – this time from a National Geographic Expedition – and had to cancel all but the last group when we were finally able to reopen “as normal” at 4pm.
The staff who have lost their accommodation are now sharing space in our other staff quarters and we’ll try to replace what possessions and clothes that they’ve lost as soon as possible. The bigger job is to raise the funds to rebuild the accommodation and store, replace the solar fence equipment and everything else that has been lost as soon as we possibly can.
We appeal to you all to please help in any way that you can so that we can recover from this significant loss. We’ve been fundraising hard to get the equipment in place for our new enclosures for the chimps and having finally been able to get that work underway we face another massive challenge as a result of the fire. Your support is much needed and much appreciated.
One piece of good news is that Ewa and Frankie both safely completed the Paris Marathon on 15 April. Their fundraising page is still open and another way that you can send in donations to help our fire appeal:
- http://www.justgiving.com/TacugamaMarathon – we can claim an additional 25% on top of what you donate through Giftaid if you’re a UK taxpayer
- http://www.tacugama.com/donate.html – you can use our paypal account to donate through the links on this page and there’s also the details of a Euro bank account that you can transfer directly to.
Thank you for your support