Chimpanzees are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and due to effects of hunting and the illegal trade in wildlife across the world, they are at a very high risk of becoming extinct in the wild. Sierra Leone is home to the Western Chimpanzee subspecies and holds the third highest population after Guinea and Liberia. The Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary is located on the outskirts of Freetown, in the Western Area Peninsula National Parkand and acts as a safe haven for many of Sierra Leone’s endangered chimpanzees. The sanctuary covers 100 acres of the 17,688 hectare national park .
The sanctuary was established in 1995 to enforce the law and rehabilitate confiscated, orphaned and abandoned chimpanzees, with the aim of releasing them back them into their natural habitat. Unfortunately, while it is illegal to hunt, capture, kill trade or own chimpanzees in Sierra Leone, the practices still continues. Currently the Tacugama Sanctuary cares for about 75 chimpanzees in several forested enclosures. It programmes focus on the protection and conservation of chimpanzees and their habitat through education programmes, community sensitisation, field research and legal enforcement. Over the years the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary has been involved in educating the community about chimpanzees which has led to various Community Development, Community Outreach, Field Research and Education Programs. Tacugama also provides an opportunity for tourists and local residents to see and learn about chimpanzees at close range in forested enclosures. The sanctuary conducts two tours daily (during feeding time when the chimpanzees leave the forest for food). The sanctuary also organises overnight stays in tranquileco-lodges to give visitors more time to relax in the rainforest.
To learn more about the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary please click HERE.