Did you know that chimpanzees hold a special place in Sierra Leone’s heart, being recognized as the national animals? With an estimated population of around 5500 individuals, Sierra Leone boasts a healthy chimpanzee population, a testament to the country’s commitment to wildlife preservation.
However, despite this thriving population, chimpanzees remain an endangered species, facing threats from habitat loss and poaching. Each year, numerous chimpanzees find themselves orphaned or injured due to hunting, road accidents, or the illegal pet trade. This is where the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary steps in, as Sierra Leone’s largest and oldest chimpanzee sanctuary.
Founded in 1988 by the compassionate duo, Bala and Sharmila Amarasekaran, Tacugama has been at the forefront of chimpanzee rehabilitation and conservation efforts. Starting with the rescue of Bruno, an injured baby chimpanzee, the sanctuary has since become a safe haven for hundreds of chimps, contributing significantly to the preservation of Sierra Leone’s wild chimpanzee population.
Let’s delve into five compelling reasons why you should consider visiting this remarkable sanctuary.
- Witness the Majesty of Chimpanzees: Spotting chimpanzees in the wild is a dream for many visitors to Sierra Leone. However, the elusive nature of these creatures often makes this a rare encounter. Tacugama provides a unique opportunity to observe these incredible primates up close. With some residing in spacious outdoor enclosures, visitors have the chance to witness their playful antics, while the younger and more fragile ones are kept in specialized rooms.
- Volunteer for a Noble Cause: For those seeking a deeper connection with these remarkable creatures, Tacugama offers volunteer programs ranging from three weeks to six months. Volunteers play a crucial role in various tasks, such as community outreach, building maintenance, marketing, administration, and animal care. These programs, starting at $1400 for 12 weeks (inclusive of food and accommodation), provide an enriching experience while contributing to the sanctuary’s mission of safeguarding Sierra Leone’s wild chimpanzee population.
- Immerse Yourself in the Rainforest: If you’re unable to commit to an extended volunteering period, you can still enjoy a more immersive experience at Tacugama. Stay overnight in the sanctuary’s treehouse lodges or eco roundhouses, each uniquely designed and surrounded by the lush rainforest. With the soothing sounds of the forest as your lullaby, your stay not only promises tranquility but also directly supports the conservation efforts.
- Embark on Enchanting Forest Walks: Overnight guests have the privilege of embarking on short hikes around the sanctuary, included in the accommodation package. For those seeking a deeper exploration, guided forest walks ranging from 2 to 4 hours are available. These excursions lead you through Krio villages, past dams, waterfalls, and offer breathtaking views of the treetops. Keep your eyes peeled for the diverse wildlife that calls this rainforest home, including birds, butterflies, monkeys, and even the occasional sighting of wild chimpanzees.
- Join Special Events and Retreats: Tacugama hosts a variety of events and activities throughout the year, providing an opportunity to engage with the sanctuary’s mission in unique ways. From tranquil yoga retreats set amidst the canopy to delectable Sri Lankan curry nights, these events offer a chance to connect with like-minded individuals while supporting the sanctuary’s vital work.
Conclusion: A visit to Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary is not only a chance to witness the marvels of these incredible creatures but also an opportunity to contribute to their conservation. Whether you’re seeking a transformative volunteering experience or a serene retreat in the heart of the rainforest, Tacugama offers a unique and meaningful adventure for all. Plan your visit today and be a part of the journey to safeguard Sierra Leone’s wild chimpanzees for generations to come.