Here’s what we heard yesterday from Bala Amarasekaran, the Founder and Director of the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone:

Bala Amarasekaran

Bala Amarasekaran, the Founder and Director of the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, has been rescuing chimpanzees in Sierra Leone since 1995.

Dear Shirley,

We cannot thank you enough. Indeed a blessing, your kindness and support has always been there for Tacugama. Situation is pretty bad. Rather late, but much needed help is beginning to arrive. Hope they can turn the tide!

We are doing our best to stay calm and serve. Gestures like yours give us that extra strength and peace of mind to continue. Please extend my sincere appreciation to the entire IPPL family.

With warm regards,
Bala and team

Last month, when we posted about the Ebola crisis that is bringing suffering and death to so many people in West Africa, the situation looked dire. Now it is only getting worse, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicting up to 1.4 million people infected by January, if serious measures to halt the spread of the epidemic are not taken immediately.

To date, the terrible virus has claimed nearly 3,000 lives. The affected area includes primarily Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, with additional cases being reported in Senegal and Nigeria. The Sierra Leonean government has by now quarantined more than a million people in an effort to contain the spread of the disease. This follows on the heels of a three-day lockdown that ended this past Sunday and that brought the country virtually to a standstill.

Eco-Lodge at Tacugama

Tacugama relies on a steady stream of visitors to help make ends meet; unfortunately, paying volunteers as well as overnight guests at the sanctuary’s lovely eco-lodges (like this one) have disappeared as a result of the crisis.


In addition to concern for the terrible repercussions for the people in this region, we have been very worried about the fate of Tacugama’s chimpanzees—about 87 of them, nearly all orphaned and rescued from the trade in bushmeat and pets. They are susceptible to the virus, too, which causes a hemorrhagic fever and can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.

Fina fromTacugama

Tacugama’s chimpanzees are mostly orphans who have been rescued from the cruel trade in bushmeat and pets.


But when we asked IPPL’s wonderful supporters to donate and help Tacuagama get through this crisis, we were touched by the response. And because we offered to match any and all donations one-for-one from our emergency fund, I am happy to say that we have already sent two installments of desperately needed funds to Tacugama, totaling over $22,000! [Update November 21, 2014: This matching opportunity is no longer available.]

School visit at Tacugama

Normally, Tacugama is open for day visitors. These guests not only get a unique education about Sierra Leone’s native chimpanzees but also provide an important source of income to the sanctuary.










Empty Tacugama

Now, the crowds are gone, as travel throughout Sierra Leone has become more and more restricted. It is also increasingly difficult and expensive to purchase food and supplies.










We are continuing to raise funds for our chimp friends and their hardworking human allies in Sierra Leone, now via a widespread mailing, and we hope to send a third installment soon. Please share this post with anyone you know who would still like to contribute.

And thank you!