A preliminary finding of the first comprehensive national chimpanzee survey conducted by Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary reveals that the wild life population approximately stands at 4,000 individual Chimpanzees which is almost twice as many Chimpanzees exist in Sierra Leone as previously thought.
The survey also disclosed that almost half of these Chimpanzees are surviving in highly threatened and marginal habitats outside of the country’s protected forest reserve. This report indicates that Sierra Leone has the second largest chimpanzee population in West Africa after Guinea as the country hosts a significant population of endangered Western Chimpanzees.
The National Chimpanzee Census project was conceived and coordinated by Tacugama, with support from the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) and endorsed by the government of Sierra Leone.
The leader of the research team, Dr. Terry Brncic, said the team worked intensively across Sierra Leone and interviewed almost 800 communities and surveyed around 670km of transects on foot.
She further disclosed that significant data have been captured for other large mammal species that include evidence of forest elephants in the centre of Sierra Leone.
Bala Amarasekaran of Tacugama Sanctuary said this result offers hope for the long-term survival of the Western Chimpanzees, but also highlight the significant threats that this flagship species face in Sierra Leone. He also added that with the country’s push to develop and eliminate poverty, habitats are rapidly lost to logging, mining and farming, pushing chimpanzees into direct conflict with communities as they strive for survival.
By William Freeman