The sanctuary was established in 1995 with initial seed funding from European Union to enforce the wildlife laws and re-home and rehabilitate captured, abandoned and orphaned chimpanzees. We continue to grow in size and currently have over 100 chimpanzees under our care. Unfortunately we continue to receive rescued chimps, sadly confirming that wild populations continue to be threatened by human activity and much more work is needed to secure their future in Sierra Leone. However, there is still hope, thanks to the tireless work of the staff and with the aid of local communities we have essentially eradicated the chimpanzee pet trade in Freetown.
The origins of Tacugama started as far back as 1985 when Bala Amarasekaran and his wife, Sharmila, were travelling through a village 150 miles from Freetown. There they came across a weak baby chimpanzee tied to a tree in need of medical help. Bala and Sharmila bought the chimpanzee for $20 and named him Bruno. Before long, they had 7 rescued chimpanzees in their house and they needed to establish a permanent solution for their growing family. For the complete story, please click here
Once at the sanctuary, the rescued chimpanzees are gradually reacquainted with their natural surroundings and are integrated into surrogate family groups so they can start to live a more normal life. Our aim is that they re-acquire the skills that they will need to thrive in the wild once a suitable release site can be identified.
From the outset, Tacugama has been a challenging and exciting project. The sanctuary operated through the barbaric Sierra Leone civil war thanks to heroic work from our dedicated staff. The legend of Bruno started here and we were home toPinkie, the only recorded albino chimpanzee in the world. We have also completed the most thorough study of chimpanzee population ever conducted in Sierra Leone.