Africa: Third COVID Wave Threatens Chimps

Posted in 02/08/2021

From PASA – Pan African Sanctuaries Alliance

A devastating third wave of COVID in Sierra Leone is forcing Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary back into lockdown, wreaking havoc on people and chimps.

“The health and safety of the chimpanzees and workers at Tacugama is our priority,” said Kareen Zabow, Operations Manager. “We do not know when we will be opening again.” This is the third time that the sanctuary has been forced to close to visitors and volunteers — the third time they’ve suddenly faced the catastrophic loss of all their ecotourism income.

Tacugama cares for 101 rescued chimpanzees. Twenty-eight of them are orphaned infants, rescued from the wildlife trade, who need to be bottle-fed. Without crucial revenue from ecotourism, meeting the costs of feeding all these hungry mouths becomes a daunting challenge.

As COVID surges and most of the country’s population does not have ready access to vaccines, Tacugama was very fortunate to arrange vaccinations for all 30+ staff! Despite this, the only way to keep the chimps safe is to lockdown the sanctuary. Some staff will now stay on site 24 hours a day until the lockdown is over. 

Tacugama’s first closure lasted seven months. Surviving that long stretch of fear and uncertainty was hard enough. Then, Tacugama pulled through a second COVID escalation and resulting lockdown. Today, COVID in Sierra Leone is skyrocketing to new heights. Tacugama pleads, “With no foreseen income to run the sanctuary, we hope you can help us with a donation. Big or small, every penny counts.”

Please, act now to help the chimps at Tacugama. With no signs of COVID subsiding in Africa, they urgently need your protection.