Following on from yesterday’s catch up with the chimps – here’s our catch up with some of the rest of our activities…
Apart from our direct care of the almost 100 chimps in Tacugama we’ve been stepping up our overall conservation and outreach activities in and out of Sierra Leone. At the end of May we held a 3.5 day Population and Habitat Viability Assessment (PHVA) workshop with the support of the IUCN CBSG (Conservation Breeding Specialist Group) to further analyse the information collected through our National Chimpanzee Census Project that we reported on last year. The workshop included a broad range of stakeholders from government, local communities and international primatologists and will lead to the development of a national chimpanzee conservation action plan. It’s an important strategic step towards securing more support and action to ensure the long term survival of chimpanzees in Sierra Leone.
The start of day 1 of the PHVA workshop
Getting into the details
Just before the PHVA workshop our field team were busy undertaking a large mammal survey in the Wara Wara hills as part of the USAID funded PAGE programme. It follows on from the support we received from PAGE to deliver our census project and will contribute to the increasing community co-management of protected areas that the programme promotes.
A view of the stunning Wara Wara hills in the NE of Sierra Leone
We’ve also been increasing our community outreach and sensitisation activities; with the support of African Minerals we’re now working with 13 communities to increase their environmental awareness and implement activities that will support protection for wild chimpanzee populations around these communities. We’re extending this pilot work to also include additional communities that we’ve built links with since undertaking the census. Our field outreach team is now benefiting from the support of a new volunteer, Vicky Dauncey, who joined us in July, and they’re making some great progress.
Our conservation sensitisation at work in rural Sierra Leone (Tonkolili)
July also saw us say a sad farewell to Bernie who’d been with us as volunteer since January and through his GIS skills contributed a huge amount to our camera trapping project in the Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve and even more to the European Union/Welthungerhilfe WAPFoR project that is working hard to protect this crucial natural resource that provides Freetown (our capital city) with its vital water supply. Again we’ll soon provide you with updates on these two important projects.
The summer brought us some great volunteer help from Catherine Jones, Alex Bradbury, Bethan Jones and Cole Benedict who between them saw our resource centre and lots of data entry and photo management brought up date while they were on short term visits to Sierra Leone – thanks to you all for hitting some of those tedious but very important tasks on the head!
During August our Education Officer, Obana Bangura, has been busy preparing our programme for the 2011/12 academic year and thanks to help from Lush and increased collaboration with the WAPFoR project we’ll be working with 16 junior secondary schools that surround the reserve for this year’s environmental education programme. Obana’s preparation received a boost from the PASA (Pan African Sanctuary Alliance) educators workshop that took place in Uganda and the programme for this year is looking very promising. We’re also pleased to have the support of Nick Piggott who’s moved to Freetown with his partner and is sharing some of his free time to help support Obana and our fundraising activities. Last week we had along the children of our staff members for a sanctuary visit and education day so that Obana could practice some of the new activities with them and a fun day was had by all!
Signing the promise wall
A fun learning session
Our increasing work in and outside of the sanctuary brings with it ever increasing administrative requirements. We’re happy to welcome our latest volunteer, Keira McKee, on board to help ease the load! She’ll be helping with our photography, website and blog as well as keeping the admin at bay.
We’d like to thank you all for your patience while we’ve been offline and we appreciate your continuing support. We’re looking forward to hearing from you as we bring you fully back up to date! For now – here’s another photo of little Perry – wrapped up to keep him warm during the rainy season to make up for the lack of his mother’s body heat he would have normally benefitted from.