Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary Sierra Leone
Commonwealth Point of Light 167. Bala Amarasekaran
Commonwealth Point of Light 167. Sharmila Amarasekaran
Bala and Sharmila Amarasekaran, representing Sierra Leone, founded the 'Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary' focusing on rehabilitation, conservation, and research following the dramatic decline in the chimpanzee species from 20,000 to around 4,000.
Husband and wife Bala and Sharmila are passionate about protecting wildlife, and first began supporting chimpanzees in 1985, when travelling through a village 150 miles from the capital of Freetown and coming across a weak baby chimpanzee tied to a tree in need of medical help. After buying the chimpanzee, and naming him Bruno, they soon began to rescue other chimpanzees, and created the ‘Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary’ to provide a permanent home for their growing family of wildlife. Now the sanctuary welcomes thousands of visitors every year, including over 2,000 school children, to educate them about the protection of chimpanzees.
Simon Mustard, British High Commissioner in Sierra Leone, said:
“Bala and Sharmila have created something truly unique and special with the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary. It serves as an inspiration to many in Sierra Leone, the Commonwealth and beyond. Their Commonwealth Points of Light award is richly deserved and I hope will highlight their tremendous work to an even wider audience.”
“I am extremely gratified by this award. Biggest honour goes to Team Tacugama for their commitment and support given to me over the years. We have gone through a very rough and painful year due to the Covid pandemic and this award will certainly boost everyone’s morale.”