Tag Archives: Education

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

Second baby chimp from same area within weeks

Kortu is name after the area she came from

Kortu is name after the area she came from

Another baby chimp arrived at Tacugama just a few days ago. Kortu hails from the same area as baby Michael who reached us just weeks ago (and is doing a lot better now). We had given the employees from the palm oil plantation who brought in Michael some large posters to spread the message that hunting and keeping chimpanzees is illegal in Sierra Leone.  Possibly this was the cause that the villager just handed Kortu over to plantation staff, rather than trying to sell her, like with Michael.

Kortu observes the filling in of her forms

Kortu observes the filling in of her forms

After filling in the necessary forms, where palm oil employee Tom tried to give us as much information as possible about Kortu’s history, she was entrusted to Mama Posseh’s expert care. This was the second time Tom had made the long drive from the provinces to Tacugama with a baby chimp within 6 weeks!

 'Chimp chauffeur' Tom hands Kortu over to Posseh

‘Chimp chauffeur’ Tom hands Kortu over to Posseh

These two recent arrivals from the same area highlight the importance of sensitizing the local population there about the special role of chimpanzees as well as making sure they know it is illegal to hunt chimps or keep them as pets. Tacugama has a lot of experience in outreach projects in many parts of Sierra Leone and is already in talks with local chiefs and the director of the palm oil plantation about how to shape a sensitization campaign in that area.

Our ultimate goal is of course to have chimps be safe from threats in their natural habitat, and no longer have any new chimps needing sanctuary at Tacugama.



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 amazon.com or amazon.co.uk.

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.

“Somebody” arrives at Tacugama – that’s her name!

A chimp called Somebody...at times this name causes confusion!

A chimp called Somebody…at times this name causes confusion!

Meet Somebody – the latest arrival at Tacugama who was handed in voluntarily last week after her owners visited us for a tour. Many Sierra Leoneans visit the sanctuary and enjoy seeing the chimps in their forest enclosures whilst also learning about their behaviour, endangered conservation status and the fact that is illegal to hunt or keep chimpanzees as pets.

Somebody is about four years old and comes from southern Sierra Leone. The owner had bought the young chimp from his brother who had caught her in one of his snares a year ago.  The snare severed four of the fingers on her right hand and the tips of two of her toes. Those wounds have healed fully  and she is amazingly able to manipulate all manner of materials and swing from the ropes.

Her right hand was severely damaged by a snare - only one deformed finger remains.

After damage by a snare  only one deformed finger remains.

Somebody is a cheeky, adventurous chimp – as well as the damage incurred by the snare she also carries a scar on her chest from an electric shock that she gained from climbing a pylon whilst staying with her owners. She’s constantly keeping an eye on what’s going on and testing her surroundings- it looks like quite a character has arrived at Tacugama!  She will spend the next three months in quarantine before she joins one of the existing groups.

Ripping up some cardboard very effectively, though her right hand is not much more than a stump.

Still ripping up some cardboard very effectively with six fingers.

Somebody is the second chimp to arrive at Tacugama in the last two months – just before Christmas Reggae was rescued and we’ll tell you more about her soon.

Rollercoaster of events at Tacugama – Part II

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
IMG_5575 - Copy

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
20110518_Tr12b_team2_Y.K&J.L.M_a huge rock  (2)

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)
20110415_interpriter passing on the sensitization message to the audience

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
2011 TKP Activities-6

2011 TKP Activities-12

A fun learning session
2011 TKP Activities-16

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.


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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The Tacugama Kids Programme gets ACTive!

Term 2 is in full swing and Class 5 students from the fifteen schools participating in the TKP have been performing a short play for their classmates as a reinforcement activity for the lesson on pollution.

The play deals with issues of water pollution within the rural communities in which these children live and addresses good hygiene practices.

Regent REC > Unisa: “Mama said the river was polluted, is that water pollution?”

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