Chimps Transforming Tourism In Sierra Leone

Chimps Transforming Tourism In Sierra Leone

Eco-tourism brings people and communities closer to habitat protection and resource management. In the end, communities benefit from job creation to stable livelihoods. Also, ecotourism conserve and help to maintain a balance ecosystem. Declaring the Western Chimpanzees in Sierra Leone as ‘National’ animals will undoubtedly see the protection of these species and boost ecotourism in the country. However, other species in the wild will also benefit as the entire biodiversity will be protected. The chimpanzee is the new face of tourism in the country meaning more effort is needed to showcase our new face to the world. The protection of chimpanzees and its habitats will not only provide home to these animals; this venture will ensure the protection of the environment from natural disasters resulting to illegal human activities on the environment. Some countries in the world relies heavily on wildlife tourism and Sierra Leone is no exception as the country can boast of amazing species endemic to this part of the world.

Approximately, the country hosts about 5500 chimpanzees. About 98 % of this number faces serious threats from population decline to eventual species extinction if protective measures are not put in place to ensure habitat protection and or restoration. Notwithstanding, Tacugama has over the years fought for the recognition of these animals to be protected by law and the protection of their homes at the same time advocating for environment protection. Chimpanzee is the flagship programme of the sanctuary. The creation of a safe haven for these orphan chimps mostly traumatized after living in human homes open the door for the protection of all animals in the country. Forests in Sierra Leone are not only home to chimpanzees but other amazing species and plants and maintaining a healthy forest will undoubtedly protect our flora and fauna and to a large extent prevent natural disasters.

Eco-tourism relies heavily on community-partnership in forest and animal protection. The Tacugama community bio-monitoring eco-guards are still patrolling the forests with the aim of securing the forests for animals to live peacefully. They ensure that humans maintain a distance from invading the space of these animals. These bio-monitoring guards work closely with communities in safeguarding their natural resources at all times. In this time of uncertainty, we do need to preserve the integrity of the environment to prevent possible destruction if we are to showcase the beauty of Sierra Leone when the world returns to normalcy after COVID- 19.

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