Tacugama Community Outreach Programme
The Community Outreach Programme tackles conservation issues nationwide by working with rural communities towards sustainable natural resource management and wildlife conservation. The work helps to protect wild chimpanzee populations as well as many other species throughout Sierra Leone that benefit from habitat protection.
Sierra Leone lies in the Upper Guinean Forest Block, one of the most biodiverse and also most threatened regions in the world. Due to severely high deforestation rates and unsustainable hunting for the bushmeat trade, biodiversity in Sierra Leone, including wild chimpanzees, is being lost at an alarming rate. Deforestation not only results in the loss of plant and wildlife species but also the loss of the numerous ecosystem services that the forest provides.
The programme currently consists of two main elements: Rural Community Education and Development and Private Sector Sensitisation and Best Practise
Rural Community Sensitisation and Development
This element of the programme raises environmental awareness and integrates conservation and development by enabling rural communities to undertake livelihood activities based on environmentally sound practises that encourage sustainable forest and wildlife management.
Environmental Sensitisation Workshops – Community workshops consisting of;
- Discussion about basic ecological and environmental concepts such as ecosystems and conservation.
- Discussion about the importance of forest and wildlife conservation for provision of food, water and other benefits.
- Discussion about the bushmeat crisis and the conservation status of and laws protecting chimpanzees.
- Instruction on the practises of sustainable charcoal burning and fuel wood collection, use of fuel-efficient stoves and mixed crop farming methods.
- Latrine Construction – provides an alternative to bush defecation thereby increasing community hygiene levels and decreasing risk of disease transmission to local wildlife
- Sustainable Alternative Livelihoods; livestock husbandry – decreasing wildlife hunting and providing a sustainable livelihood by providing alternative protein and income sources
- Swamp Rice Seed Supply – supplying communities with rice gives livelihood assistance and is an alternative to the upland rice variety which often requires forest to be cleared in order to plant it. It also mitigates human-wildlife conflict as rice is not susceptible to crop raiding by wildlife
- Agricultural Tool Supply – to assist communities with efficient farming methods
- Tree Nursery Establishment – tree nurseries provide a source for saplings to be planted in replacement of trees felled for use, are a source of fruit tree saplings for future crops and an income source through sale of surplus saplings
Private Sector Sensitisation and Best Practise
The programme is currently working with the mining company African Minerals Ltd to implement better practises and raise environmental awareness amongst employees. Bushmeat is often hunted for sale to industrial employee camps and therefore raising awareness amongst employees can work to mitigate the bushmeat trade.
- Signing of, and commitment to, The Wildlife Promise, a document outlining the steps the organisation will take to minimise involvement in the bushmeat and exotic pet trade.
- Presentations by the Outreach Team at employee camps on the Bushmeat and Exotic Pet Trade discussing;
- Key facts, drivers of the trade, impacts on wildlife and human populations
- Laws surrounding illegal bushmeat and the keeping of chimpanzees
- The effects their personal actions can have, alternatives to bushmeat and solutions to the crisis
At present, the programme works with 33 communities throughout Tonkolili, Port Loko and Moyamba districts. We are hoping to move into the Kambia district in the near future.