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Sierra Leone News: Tacugama Sanctuary ends wildlife protection sensitization

The Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary Community Outreach Program has successfully ended a 24-day sensitization campaign along the Bandajuma to Jendema Road (Sierra Leone) on to Bo Waterside in Liberia on the importance of chimpanzees and other wildlife, their habitats and the risks of eating bush meat.
Chimpanzees are unlike most wildlife as their reproduction rate is similar to humans. They produce children every five years after the age of 10-12 years. Therefore, killing one chimpanzee can significantly hurt a population. Chimpanzees also add to forest growth by spreading seeds through feces. Chimpanzees share almost 80% of DNA with humans and are incredibly similar to humans.
Thousands of people were sensitized in the 36 villages along the Bandajuma/Jendema Road on hunting and killing endangered wildlife spices, reforestation (regenerate degraded habitats), protection of water catchment areas, waste management practices, better improved farming methods, how to conserve the biodiversity of Sierra Leone and enforcement of wildlife laws, especially chimpanzees.
Among other stakeholders, the team held discussions with Paramount Chiefs Sheriff Tamu of Kpele Chiefdom, Lahai Sowa of Sowa Chiefdom, ShekuKoroma of Pejeh Chiefdom, Vandy Kong Magona of Barrie Chiefdom and Mohamed Conteh of Kanbondeh Chiefdom.
The team also informed the people about the status of wildlife in human-disturbed habitats, frequently raided crops and types of animals, especially chimps, how to develop mitigation methods to minimize human-wildlife conflict, the biodiversity richness as well as collected evidence of the threats to chimpanzees and other wildlife and contribute to the conservation of these non-protected habitats in addition to teaching communities how to adapt new livelihood that is better for the environment and wildlife.
Due to their declining population, chimpanzees have become endangered spices. Sierra Leone had the second highest population of chimpanzees after Guinea.
During the campaign, a survey was conducted during which the people were asked the type of work they do, age, if they eat bush meat/chimpanzee meat, how often they eat bush meat/chimpanzee meat, the source of the meat, the meaning of zoonosis and if they attended school.
The Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary Community Outreach Program facilitated a joint printed statement from the Sierra Leone Police and the National Protected Area Authority (NPAA) as part of the sensitization materials that were posted at the border control posts and all the communities visited.
Human activities, such as road construction, can impact negatively on communities and ecosystems as well as exacerbate threats to spices such as the chimpanzees (e.g. habitat loss and fragmentation, bush meat and pet trade and disease transmission) and other wildlife.
Sierra Leone is home to the Western chimpanzee which is listed as Critically Endangered by the Spices Survival Commission (SSS) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Easy accessibility to Liberia through road poses risks to local communities and wildlife populations by increasing the bush meat consumption, pet trade and logging in areas previously not seriously impacted by anthropogenic pressures.
The Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary was founded in 1995 by Bala Amarasekaran together with the Government of Sierra Leone that allocated 40 hectares of land to be used inside the Western Area Peninsula National Park. In 2016, the sanctuary cared for about 77 chimpanzees that were all orphaned due to threats to their habitat by human activities.
The lack of information within the communities drives villages to make decisions not favorable for the protection of the environment and their natural resources.
By Saidu Bah
Wednesday May 16, 2018.

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