Conservation of the wildlife is a major call for concern globally. This is especially when most valued wild species are on the verge of extinction. Preserving such is an act worthy of recognition.
In Sierra Leone, one person that has worked so hard in this direction is Bala Amarasekaran. From adopting a weak sickly chimp who was waiting to be sold, his interest in preserving this endangered species resulted in the establishment of the country’s top most touristic site – Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
Not only that, the presence of Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary along the Western Area Peninsula Park in Freetown is a contributing factor to the preservation of this valued environment which has over the years been threatened by human encroachment.
As a way of rewarding this work, a release issued by Indianapolis Prize on 22nd October 2019 has revealed that Amarasekaran is among 31 individuals that have been nominated for the 2020 World’s Leading Animal Conservation Award- The Indianapolis Prize 2020. The release also revealed that the winner of the prize bags home an unrestricted $250,000 USD while the remaining five finalists will receive $10,000 USD each. The president of Indianapolis Zoo, Dr Rob Shumaker stated in the release, “These remarkable nominees are responsible for some of the finest conservation work occurring on our planet today. They lead, protect, inspire, and offer hope for everyone who cares about the natural world”.
Awoko Newspaper asked Amarasekaran what his nomination meant for him and for Sierra Leone?
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He said, “For me; probably inspire young Sierra Leoneans to respect our environment and take pride in protecting Chimpanzees, our national animal and follow my footsteps.
For Sierra Leone; A proud moment for a Sierra Leonean to be nominated for such a prestigious award, it’s considered to be the academy award for the animal conservation world and will certainly help putting Salone on the map!”
The conservationist said this was the first time he was being nominated for this award. He added, “This award is not for a project but for an individual. It’s Bala in this case for being the founder and kept it going for 25 years! Every single person nominated for this award is already a winner as they are all worthy of it … so I am not really focusing on winning it … if it comes my way … will certainly help us to do a lot more for conservation in Sierra Leone.”
Sheku Kamara, Executive Director of Conservation Society Sierra Leone described the award as a well deserving one for Amarasekaran. Kamara noted the great role the Conservationist has played in protecting the Western Area Peninsula Park which does not only host the Chimpanzee Sanctuary but also serves as a habitation for other valued species. “He is doing this in the interest of preserving nature. He has done tremendous work in that direction”, Kamara said.
By Edna Browne-Dauphine
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