Sierra Leone Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Programme
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Sensitization posters from our conservation outreach campaign.

Our Mandate

The overall aim of the Sierra Leone Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Programme is to provide a safe home for orphaned & endangered chimpanzees. The cruel and wasteful pet & bushmeat trade must be put to an end. Tacugama also endeavours to help protect and conserve the species in the wild by engaging with the public through environmental sensitisation & training programmes.

Not so long ago wild chimpanzees were freely captured by the thousands and shipped out of Africa as specimens for bio-medical research, dressed in clothes for our popular entertainment, placed in zoos and kept as private pets. Although this trade is now illegal in most parts of Africa, an illegal network continues to hunt chimpanzees, and the daily destruction of their habitat is forcing wild populations to live in isolated pockets of forest. Another major pressure on the future survival of these sentient apes is the pet trade within Africa where babies are bought as novelty pets. All trade supports the inhumane slaughter of countless chimps…mothers are usually killed and infants often die from gunshot wounds, dehydration and depression.

In Sierra Leone, the chimpanzee pet trade, until recently was flourishing as over 50 pets were found in the capital Freetown, alone. Whilst young they are playful and cute, but as they grow up, they become difficult to handle. Thus many are killed and abandoned. Those that do survive live a life of cruelty in confinement, denied their most basic social needs. Although Sierra Leone prohibits the capture and sale of chimpanzees, enforcing this law means confiscating pets. Authorities are then faced with the dilemma of what to do with so many chimpanzees. Once captive they cannot simply be returned to the wild, they would be attacked by wild chimps and without their naturally learned skills, may perish. Realising the urgency to find a home for legally confiscated pet chimps and those acquired through alternative means, the Government of Sierra Leone, through the help of a conservationist, Bala Amarasekaran, and the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, created the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary. The sanctuary is part of a larger programme, the Sierra Leone Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Programme, playing a vital role in stopping the trade and preserving chimpanzees in the wild.

Objectives of the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary

1. To encourage the implementation of existing international and national wildlife laws especially those provisions contained in the Convention of the International Trade in Endangered Species (C.I.T.E.S.), which protects endangered species.

2. To encourage effective local law enforcement agencies to take positive action against the trading of chimpanzees and other endangered species.

3. To integrate orphaned & endangered wild-born chimpanzees into social groups with a view to rehabilitating them into a semi-wild environment.

4. To provide an educational, research and leisure facility to increase public awareness on the plight of Sierra Leone’s chimpanzee population by attracting visitors from all walks of life.

5. To provide a relaxing and comfortable environment which can be sustained through entry fees, contributions, and local crafts to promote eco-tourism in Sierra Leone.


Our Implementation Strategy


1. Continue law enforcement, confiscate captive chimpanzees, and launch national wildlife laws awareness campaigns.


2. Gradually rehabilitate the chimps both mentally and physically. This includes teaching them the basic social and survival skills, which they might have lost in captivity, as they will need to find food and live as a community.


3. Build electric fenced enclosures within the Western Area protected forest reserve where the chimpanzees can be habituated to a life in the forest.


4. Continue environmental education programmes for schools and communities living around the sanctuary, and continue sensitisation countrywide.


5. Expand our community development programmes that support farmers, hunters, tree cutters, and women co-operatives in surrounding communities to ensure they maintain an income that avoids all forms of human & environmental degradation.


6. Survey and assess potential forest areas for the reintroduction of rehabilitated chimpanzees and provide protection to areas with wild chimpanzee populations.

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Friends of Tacugama
The following groups make the work of Tacugama possible. See what else they support...

International Primate Protection League

Gorilla Haven

World Society for the Protection of Animals

Arcus Foundation

Kevin Mcphilips Foundation


Thank You John Lydon!


Gola being weighed

Chimp Facts

Most mothers give birth to one young an average of every five to six years in the wild. Young chimps stay with their mothers for up to 10 years.

More Facts

Last Updated: January 20, 2007 at 16:20 EST