Hello everyone and a very belated happy 2011. Apologies from everyone at Tacugama for our extended blogging absence but January seems to have disappeared at an amazing rate (as did the end of 2010)!! Hope you’ll forgive us for not keeping you in the picture – we’ll do our best to do a whistle-stop catch up on what’s been keeping us busy for the last few weeks ….
SQUEEZING IN ONE MORE CHIMP
Although our doors are technically closed we made an exception for AJ, brought to us by mining company African Minerals. He’s a very young guy and was confiscated by the company who alerted us that they had taken him from a hunter. The mine site is an extremely busy place and we all felt that it would be much better to squeeze AJ into Tacugama to keep him safe and healthy. He’s now almost finished his quarantine period and will hopefully soon become a companion to little Sarah, also a rescued by a mining company. She’s also doing incredibly well in Posseh’s care and looking forward to a friend her own size as she’s too small to join some of our more boisterous youngsters.
AJ on arrival
AJ coming round from his first health check
AJ a few days ago – sometime we think Linus could be a better name he loves his blankets so much!
Sarah sharing some special moments with Mama Posseh
STAFF FIRST AID TRAINING
Thanks to the kind support of IMATT and their doctor Lt Col Pete Roulston, several of our staff received vitally important first aid training so that we are in a much better position to assist should visitors, staff or chimps be unlucky enough to meet with an accident. Passing through several rigorous training sessions and a final test, we are very proud of Moses, Willie, Pastor, Posseh, Manso, Momodu, Daniel, Obana and Ansu who successfully achieved their Emergency First Response certification. We are very grateful to Pete, Tina, Faye and Luke for their supportive training.
Recreating an accident scene
Lt Col Pete Roulston with Obana, Daniel, Manso, Moses and Dr Simona
TACUGAMA KIDS ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PROGRAMME (T-KEEP)
Working with the rural junior secondary schools in the communities around our forest continues to be an important priority for us and Obana, our education officer has been busy implementing our education programme with the support of our field officers Papanie and Yirah. We visit the schools and bring the kids to Tacugama to try and ensure that our young generations understand the importance of conserving the forests for the future.
Students from Rokel School at Tacugama
Understanding the web of life at Huntingdon School
CLEANING UP OUR LOCAL ENVIRONMENT
Sadly the mountain road leading from Freetown that passes Tacugama onto the southern beaches of our peninsula has been increasing abused as a rubbish dumping ground as a result of the expansion of our capital city Freetown. Together with our neighbouring communities we have decided that enough is enough and with them we have launched “Kip Wi Community Clean” to clean up the dump sites and stop this horrible and unhealthy habit. We’ve already stopped some vehicles that have come to dump, erected a warning sign and are gathering support to get the tools that the communities need to remove the dumped waste.
Planning for action
Fortunately we caught this one before too much was tipped on the road
Sometimes disputes between adult male chimpanzees can get a little out of hand and in January an argument between Ole and Perform left Ole with a very nasty torn lip. Emergency surgery was the order of the day and Dr Simona quickly attended to the situation, the following pictures are not for the faint of heart! Fortunately he’s now back with the group and he and Perform are back on talking terms.
Ole’s upper lip was almost removed by Perform’s bite
Dr Simona undertakes some difficult needlework with support from Willie and Bala
Ole’s recovering well but will carry the evidence for life – luckily no damage has been done to his appetite!
AND MORE EMERGENCY REPAIRS….!
Maintaining several kilometers of electric fencing requires constant vigilance to make sure that we maintain safe enclosures at Tacugama and in January we noticed that two of our fence posts needed replacing. This is an arduous task as the posts are connected with high tension wire that must be carefully removed and reconnected as part of the repairs.
Moses, Pastor and Manso repair the fence
LAW ENFORCEMENT As members of a EU funded project (with Welthungerhilfe and the Environmental Forum for Action) to protect the forest reserve where we are located, we recently delivered a 3-day field training programme for 36 newly recruited forest guards. Coincidently on the same day the training started we observed a suspicious vehicle close to the sanctuary and after following up on this confiscated many illegally harvested sticks that were destined for use in the building industry.
We found almost 200 poles hidden in the bush
It was a major task to remove these to a safe place
The forest guards and Tacugama trainers deep in the forest reserve
TREATING A SERIOUSLY ILL CHIMP
Young Zeelie fell seriously ill in January, unable to urinate easily, in significant pain and with alarming swelling to his genitalia Dr Simona was pressed into emergency action. This time we needed help from others as the cause for Zeelie’s problem was not easy to diagnose. We were very lucky to gain support from senior Sierra Leonean specialists to assist with this difficult case. After an ultrasound scan undertaken by Dr Harris identified a foreign body in Zeelie’s bladder, urologist Dr Kamara stepped in with his team to operate and remove a huge stone. Post-operative care has required managing to keep Zeelie with a catheter to drain his urine while his bladder and penis recover – keeping this in place has been a major challenge as chimps are not known for their tolerance for medical treatment! Fortunately so far he’s recovering well and tolerating the catheter thanks to the close supervision of Dr Simona, Posseh and Dr Pete from IMATT. Zeelie is still some way away from a full recovery but we are much more hopeful now thanks to the great support we’ve received.
Operating to remove the “stone”
The offending stone
Our field officers have been been once again setting and monitoring the digital camera traps in the Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve so that we can continue to gather more information about the wild chimps and other wildlife in the forest that surrounds Tacugama. We’re looking forward to bringing you more photos over the coming months taken by these great tools.
Papanie and Yirah setting one of the cameras
Ready to capture passing wildlife
TAKING CARE OF OUR FAMILY
We’re almost there on raising the final funds that we need for the new enclosures so badly needed by our growing family at Tacugama. It’s been a long road but we’re hopeful that we’re nearly there and preparations are now underway for this major construction project that will make a huge difference to our chimpanzees and our ability to continue to enforce the law and protect them in the wild. Watch this space for more news.
After our hectic start to the year we’re back on the blogging track and look forward to sharing our updates and photos during 2011. We thought we’d leave you today with these great photos of young Basma who is growing in character and confidence every day!