We visited the Tacugama chimpanzee reserve, in the hills of Freetown. Started in 1995, during the civil war, to safeguard the survival of the small chimpanzee population in Sierra Leone, the reserve is currently a safe haven for some 100 chimps.
Quite commendable an undertaking. Strapped for cash, the reserve survives on charging entry fees as well as NGO grants. Major sponsors include the European Union, USAID and the cosmetics manufacturer Lush.
And the sponsorships are needed, the reserve claiming that feeding one chimp for one year costs 1000 USD, making the daily cost of feeding all the chimps a cool 300 USD or so. It also means that feeding one chimp for one year costs about as much as three times the GDP per capita for Sierra Leone.
In the evening, at a going away party for Niamh's country director, we found that the average age of the expats in Sierra Leone is surprisingly low.