Tacugama Supports Alternative Livelihoods for Communities to improve wildlife and forestry management

1. March 2016

Over the past year, Tacugama Community Outreach Programme has been working with communities to identify, plan, and implement alternative livelihoods to address the main conservation threats for each community. “Investing time and effort into building the capacity of communities to plan and manage their community identified projects increases ownership of the projects and will hopefully lead to the overall success,” explains the Conservation Manager. Each community identified their main threat to wildlife conservation, either being food insecurity or habitat fragmentation. Communities identified projects that would improve income, increase food security, and reduce dependency on the forest. Projects were then planned by the community, governed by a project constitution and project leaders.

Livelihoods were implemented in eleven communities and included fishing support, goat breeding programmes, inland valley swamp rice production, and groundnut farming. Communities signed MoU’s that demonstrated their dedication to the project for improved wildlife and forestry management. “Concentrating on fishing will help us leave the forest” comments the Victor Sheriff, Youth Leader of Nyandehun Community. Communities were trained in both technical aspects of their livelihoods and improved record keeping and monitoring. Each community was tasked with filling out a monitoring book for their project that captures the impacts the project has had on the community, helping us to receive accurate and measureable results. Ongoing trainings will be held in the following months, strengthening communities’ business skills, record keeping, and technical knowledge of their projects. We’re looking forward to see the future gains these projects will bring for communities so they continue to protect the chimpanzees and their habitats.

Camera Trapping Mobondah

2. February 2016

The Outreach Team started off the year by visiting Mobonda communities  in  Moyamba District to execute one of our four components; Research. Tacugama wanted to collect more data through the use of camera traps, semi-structured group interviews, and reccees to confirm the presence of wild chimpanzees in this area.

The Mobonda communities is gradually becoming a heavily populated area with landscape dominated by subsistence farmlands, with few segmented matured forest that are under serious threat due to deforestation and land degradation. This camera trap research activities were done in a mosaic of habitats including mature secondary forest, degraded secondary forest, farm bush, swamps, and mangroves , to understand the biodiversity of wildlife  present in these two forests.  Camera trapping is essential for wildlife monitoring and allows us to capture both day and night data.  In six weeks, we will go back to collect the cameras and begin looking at the data present. The data helps us to develop conservation plans for the community and inform the community of what kind of wildlife is in their forests.

Conservation Manager, Lauren says “These forests are mature secondary forests that show clear and abundan

t evidences of wildlife. We saw evidence of wild chimps, crocodiles

, duikers, bush hogs and many bird species during our work there. Based on wildlife present and population pressures in these communities the necessity of camera trap is greatly needed to develop a robust conservation plan alongside of the communities”.

“We employ local forest guides from the communities to assist us in camera trapping. These forests guides gain hands-on train to wildlife surveys, the use of GPS and camera traps. Involving locals helps to create ownership of both research and conservation activities and gets the community excited about preserving wildlife and their habitats,” Outreach Officer, David Momoh says. The Outreach Team is excited to see what they find in March and compare it to information gathered during group interviews.

Community Capacity Building: Land Use  Planning Workshop
1.October 2015

The past month, the Outreach Team visited 3 of the project sites in Moyamba District to continue capacity building among the local community leaders and elders focusing mainly on Land Use Planning Workshop.

The Land Use Planning Workshop was held for community leaders in partnership with the Paramount Chief’s representative to teach community leaders on long-term land use management plans to promote conservation. Outreach Officer, David Momoh explains “Land use planning is an important component of natural resources management and building the capacity of local leaders to understand their natural resources in their communities.” The participants were prompted to map out their communities and discuss future land use plans to promote biodiversity conservation. Aerial images were also shown to the community to better understand their current land use. This was especially effective as it allowed the leaders to visualize how much of their forest had been degraded because of farming and other various pressures. The Chief’s speaker used an analogy that was close to home stating “Farmers only manage when their food becomes small, eating as much as they want during the harvesting period, but leaving little for the planting season.

It is the best practice to plan out when you’re food is plenty. In this same way, that’s how forests should be managed.” Communities were encouraged to make a plan now, while their forests are still intact.

The land use planning facilitated better community management for 18 local community leaders . The workshop urged the leaders to set up governance structures to begin creating by-laws for the protection of the forest and chimps and environments. “We encourage people to diversity their livelihoods in order to manage their resources sustainably”, Outreach Officer Edward Marah says.

The Outreach Team will continue to host workshops for community leaders their natural resources and take ownership of their land!

Market day sensitization reaches hundreds
2. January 2016

During the recent outreach trip, the team visited the Fakai-sumana open market day which takes place every week end on Saturdays. Our team of four used this opportunity to  go into the market and discuss with groups about bush meat, pet trade and forest conservation. The team used posters to sensitize people in the market about the important of environmental protection and wildlife conservation in their communities.

Outreach Officer Yirah Koroma,says that, “The sensitization captured a lot of attention within the market. More than 200 people were sensitized, many of whom expressed their interest about the program.” The team was surprised at how many people said that they were unaware that the keeping or killing of chimpanzees was illegal. The Outreach Programme strives to create long-term conservation projects in areas with a high population of chimpanzees, but sensitization campaigns like these are just as important. The team grabs any opportunity they can for crowd sensitization.

Many people in the market understood these messages and talked to the team about their own experience with seeing changes in the climate. This sensitization creates the link between the causes and effects of deforestation, land degradation, lost of certain wildlife species and water shortage in their communities. Thanks to SMART Mobile for providing us with these posters and making community-wide sensitization possible!

TUSK Trust Supports Western Area Peninsula National Park Protection
3. December 2015

Tacugama Community Outreach Programme has received generous support from the Tusk Trust to continue and increase patrolling efforts within the Western Area Peninsula National Park (WAPNP). The Team is excited to receive support for more patrol guards, intense trainings, and equipment teffectively patrol and assess the wildlife and ecologically significant habitat around Tacugama and the greater WAPNP. WAPNP is home to a number of important flora and fauna, but is facing

significant threats due to land grabbing and clearing, hunting, charcoal pits, and more.  Since 2012, our patrol guards recovered 3 illegal charcoal pits, 146 snares, and 19 shotgun shells. This area is home to two groups of chimps, at an estimated 8-10 adults, 3-4 adolescents, and 3 infants (Garriga 2012). One of our patrol guards, Joseph Marah says “The constant presence of patrol guards alerts the nearby communities to stay out. When we meet people in these areas, we are able to sensitize them about the illegality of certain activities and word spreads quickly throughout the communities.” At Tacugama, we believe that raising awareness is the key to environmental protection and that we can work with communities to take ownership of conserving their land and wildlife.  Tacugama is grateful to Tusk Trust for the support to continue protecting this area for watershed protection, a thriving forest, and a beautiful home for wildlife.


Teachers Workshop: Spreading Conservation Awareness across the Peninsula

4. November 2015

On Monday, 30th November 2015, a one-day Teacher Coordinator’s workshop was organized by the Outreach Team for the effective delivery of Environmental Education in urban schools for the 2016 academic year. 19 teachers from 10 schools around the Western Area Peninsula National Park became certified as coordinators for our school programme, TKEEP. Teachers took a tour of the Sanctuary, became familiar with our Teachers Handbooks and Kids workbooks*, and brainstormed activities to further engage students during the next school year. The Teachers who volunteer as coordinators are very enthusiastic about the program. Cyril Kortu, Teacher Coordinator for one year states, “Environmental Education that includes wildlife conservation is vital in the fight against global warning, therefore, we must target the children at a tender age if we want to promote positive change towards environmental protection.” We’re happy to have Teachers and sponsors who make this programme possible!

*We are grateful to LUSH Cosmetics who sponsored both the Workshop and all of the workbooks!

Environmental Education Students Visit the Sanctuary

5. November 2015

The 2015 Tacugama Kids Environmental Education Programme (TKEEP) school year came to a close with three days of field visits to the Sanctuary from the 25th-27th of November. A total of 197 students accompanied by their teachers from seven schools near Tacugama visited the Sanctuary. The students had a fun-filled day to showcase what they’ve learned in the classroom over the course of this past academic year.

Having the students get to see the chimpanzees really brings the TKEEP message home. “In experiencing nature first hand I now know why conservation is important and why we must protect theenvironment,” said Pinky Myers, TKEEP member from Logos Elementary School.

Students went on a tour of the sanctuary, watched Oscar, a movie about a young chimpanzee growing up in the wild, played conservation games and performed dramas. The day was full of learning and laughs for both the students and the staff at Tacugama. “It’s important that we spread the correct message about the chimpanzees to these students. From this field trip, you can tell that the students have learned a lot over the course of one year,” says Education Officer, Ethel Sillah. At Tacugama, we believe that all students should have an opportunity to visit, see, and learn about this flagship species so unique to West Africa.

Moseilelo School Construction Project: Promoting Conservation Education

6. October 2015

Tacugama has partnered with Schools for Salone, a United States based non-profit that raises funding to build schools in Sierra Leone. They’ve built over 19 schools, channeling funding to a local NGO, Programme for Children. Tacugama has partnered with both to construct a school for Moseilelo Community.

Moseilelo area has been partnering with TCOP for the past 5 years to protect the Western chimpanzee through improved natural resource and wildlife management. A key component of their cooperation has been to help Tacugama to spread conservation awareness throughout their communities. In 2012, it was confirmed through camera trapping and reconnaissance walks, that two groups of wild chimpanzees were living in the surrounding forest, Kasillah Hills (Garriga, R.M., 2013).  Six communities are established on the perimeter of the forest, with an estimated population of 1,317.  The forest patch has been fragmented into two patches and is increasingly being encroached each farming season. As population begins to increase, there is an urgent need to continue raising awareness in these communities and shifting behavior change towards conservation practices.

As the Moseilelo Community has shown great efforts in implementing activities that promote conservation and protection of these groups of chimps, education facilities are lacking, hindering an improved future. On March 15th, 1995, rebels attacked Moseilelo community occupying the town for about 2 months. During this time, they slaughtered all cattle, raided and burned houses, and burnt down the church where school was being held. The community has not recovered educational facilities since, but still value education. 70-100 students typically gather in a community member’s home to learn because of the difficult travel to government schools. The nearest properly constructed government primary school is 14 miles away, and the nearest government secondary school is 5 miles away, in which students have to cross a river by canoe to get to. It’s estimated that there are about 220 students in the area, but many don’t attend the ‘community school’ due to lack of space and materials. Rather, student-age children are taken to the farm to work. TCOP has partnered with Schools for Salone to assist in the construction of a proper school, to include 4 classrooms, a teacher’s office, secure storeroom and septic toilets to increase student attendance and work through the school to promote environmental education awareness, preserving the forest and the chimpanzees for the future.

Community Outreach Programme Supports Livelihoods through Improved Agriculture

7. October 2015

Tacugama provided Moseilelo a garri processing machine to help generate income, providing an alternative to hunting and the sale of bushmeat for the community. Garri is the product of grinding a cassava tuber into the garri machine to make grated pieces that can be roasted, creating the final product, garri. One 50 kg bag is sold at about $10 locally, and $15 dollars in Freetown. The machine has directly supported 425 people and is rented out locally to an additional 890 people.

Without the machine, the communities create a local tool, corrugated zinc roofing, poke holes in it, and manually grate the cassava. This process can take up to three days, whereas the use of the machine allows communities to process that same amount in about ten minutes. Chief Steven said that the machine has not only benefited himself, but the whole community.

Tacugama set up a Babu (Krio word for chimpanzee) committee, to help drive local projects and make sure benefits are shared amongst the community. The committee rents out the machine for $1 per day, and have earned enough to construct a community meeting place. In Sierra Leonean culture, each community has a barri, to hold special meetings for the community. The community prides itself on the construction of their meeting place.

Tacugama is happy to see that the community has greatly benefited because of the support we have offered. Yirah Koroma, Outreach Officer states “A gathering place for the community is essential to maintaining cohesiveness and proper governance of a community. By having an official structure where they can meet, important decisions and by-laws can be made. The Moseilelo Community has protected their group of chimpanzees in the nearby forest, and we hope that local law continues to enforce this.”


Biodiversity Conservation Learning Exchange with STEWARD: Catalyzing Community Conservation

8. November 2015

This past month, one of our Outreach Officers had the opportunity to attend a learning exchange trip with USAID-funded and US Forest Service support programme, STEWARD, Sustainable and Thriving Environments for
West African Regional Development. The group travelled to both Sierra Leone and Guinea sites to look at the benefit of STEWARD’s programmes in communities. Tacugama was excited to see that a lot of our efforts coincide with one another, but also picked up some new ideas on how to approach community conservation. STEWARD shared their eco-stove, Farmer Field School (FFS), agroforestry, Village Savings and Loans projects and how they impacted the communities. Outreach Officer Yirah Koroma says “It’s was beneficial that STEWARD took us on this learning exchange trip, so that conservation organizations can implement similar activities all throughout the country.” Thanks STEWARDS for your conservation efforts in Sierra Leone!

Tacugama Community Outreach Programme is implementing similar projects in our area of Moyamba District, but we are also interested in learning more about successful projects and discussing lessons learnt with other conservation programmes. We believe that it the joint effort of many organizations and across many sectors that can continue to bring about a positive change to Sierra Leone.

Film Fun in Moyamba

9. September 2015

During the past two months, the Outreach Team has been visiting the local communities to continue capacity building of the Babu Committees, livelihood monitoring, research, and community-wide sensitization.
At night, after all other work is done, we showcase a film in the local barri (meeting place). Conservation Manager, Lauren Masey says “Showing films is an excellent forum for sensitization, it allows us to target individuals that would not otherwise be a part of our meetings, such as older youths and farmers that aren't involved with our projects. It also gives communities a visual on how human-like chimpanzees are.” After viewing films, community members are asked what they learned. They often respond that they learned that chimpanzees breastfeed just like our women and take care of their families, just like we do.

Films shows have captured an audience of over 600 adults and 300 children in the past two months. 





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