In November 1998, WSPA were
finally able to visit the project
and support the building of
three electric fences, covering
a total area of 8 acres. There
were 21 chimps at the Sanctuary
and a new chimp recently confiscated
by WCB called Christo being
nursed at Bala's homein Freetown.
A few weeks after WSPA’s visit,
rebel forces made another attempt
to overthrow the government
and on January 6th 1999, rebels
once again advanced on Freetown.
Heavy fighting ensued in the
capital and more than 3,000
people were killed and many
others mutilated in the following
weeks. Sadly, this included
Mr. Prince Palmer, the chairman
of the Tacugama Sanctuary steering
committee, who had been so encouraged
by WSPA’s visit a few weeks
The staff once again hid close
to the sanctuary, getting what
food to the chimps they could.
Bala was fortunate to be living
in a part of Freetown that remained
under the protection of ECOMOG
forces allowing Bala to stay
in SL despite the war. Within
days of the coup starting, and
during a curfew, Christo fell
sick with tetanus and Bala was
forced to break into a pharmaceutical
store to obtain the life saving
den roof had to be labelled
in bold letters to avoid
unintentional air strikes
during war time.
Tacugama made a big step forward
in 2000. Three electric fenced
enclosures, dens, food storage
room and office were constructed.
Bruno’s group was the first
group of chimpanzees to be socialized
and released into the enclosure.
Tacugama together with 17 other
African primate sanctuaries
also formed an alliance, the
Pan African Sanctuary Alliance
The complete disarmament in
2001 marked the end of the civil
war and led the country to peace.
Many young chimpanzees were
brought from up-country to Freetown,
mostly to be sold as pets to
Peace Keeping Operation soldiers
and expatriates. As Tacugama’s
active sensitisation on the
illegal chimpanzee pet trade
was going on, many pet chimpanzees
were confiscated and this doubled
the number of chimpanzees under
the sanctuary’s care.
The first documentary on Tacugama
titled “Forest of Hope” was
filmed. Its main story was around
introduction to Bruno’s
group. Unfortunately, Pinkie
died unexpectedly in 2002. She
will forever be remembered as
the amazing white chimp.
As the documentary, “Forest
of Hope,” attracted much attention
around the world, another documentary,
“Chimps Under Fire” was filmed
to update the on-going activities
at the sanctuary. By 2003 Tacugama
now had a basic resource center,
a quarantine clinic for new
arrivals and a food preparation
room thanks to funds from the
European Union, the National
Authorising Office & Animal
painted by local artist,
Four additional enclosures
and dens were built in 2004
to accommodate the increasing
number of resident chimpanzees.
Jaguar’s group, a younger group
of chimpanzees who were released
in one of the new enclosures.
The release was filmed to create
the third documentary “Bala,
the Friend of Chimpanzees” which
was aired in France.
Project director, Bala with
his excellency President
Ahmed Tejan Kabbah at 10th
In 2005 the volunteer and staff
quarters were built together
with new dens to accommodate
16 more young chimpanzees. An
onsite veterinarian joins the
team at Tacugama for the first
In order to promote the conservation
of wild chimpanzees in Guinea
and Sierra Leone, a nationwide
education program is launched
in collaboration with the Jane
Goodall Institute funded by
On the 6th of October, Tacugama
Chimpanzee Sanctuary hosted
more than 500 guests to celebrate
Anniversary. It was a great
honour for us to have His Excellency,
Dr. Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabbah,
the President of the
Republic of Sierra Leone.
We were also delighted with
the presence of many Government
Ministers, Ambassadors, International
guests, heads of NGO´s, village
elders and children.
Community relief distribution
for villagers from Charlotte
On the 23rd of April 2006 a
group of 31 chimps of various
ages escaped from the Tacugama
Chimpanzee Sanctuary. In the
following two weeks after the
escape, 21 chimps returned,
of which 19 had done on their
own will. After two months,
26 out of the 31 were back.
There was a lapse of three months
before we were able to rescue
one more adult chimp, Ole. Up
to today we have had sightings
of two of the younger chimps,
Sabi & Toko but sadly none
of Bruno nor of Charlie Boy.
Read the June
2006 newsletter for further
New enclosures have been built
for the new arrivals, and Tacugama
is now home to 85 endangered
& orphaned chimpanzees.
her daughter, our visiting
wild chimp continues to visit
Bruno & Augusta's group.
In 2006 our community support
programmes gathered momentum.
The Regent primary school received
books & stationary upgrades.
Clothing, shoes & various
relief supplies were distributed
as far as Kailahun village,
300 miles north of Freetown.
Return to 1988-1997
Forum - Support