Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Photos

Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary Sierra Leone

If you know anything about me, you know that I’m a massive fan of wildlife, in particular primates. I love watching their behaviour and how similar it is to that of ours. I feel a connection with primates, most likely because I’m a bit of a monkey myself. Thus, the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary just outside of Freetown was a place I had marked out on my map for quite a long time.

Tacugama houses a large number of rescued chimpanzees that had previously been pets or on the market to be sold as bush meat. Their goal is to return the chimpanzees to the wild. It is by no means a zoo and most of the chimps live in near-natural conditions. Once a day, the naturalists who work at the sanctuary take visitors on a bit of a tour around.  It is a phenomenal place.

Anyways, enough chatter, on with the photos!

Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary Sierra Leone

First chimp I spotted… having some snacks.

Can’t you just see these guys as a bunch of humans sitting around talking about the weather?

This guy was in stage 2 of the 4 stage process, which is basically a smallish monitor-able enclosure.

Hanging out.

Looking a bit sad…

Being lazy…

Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary Sierra Leone

On to stage 3, the chimpanzees have about 5 acres of free forest to play in.

Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary Sierra Leone

Finally, the chimps enter stage 4 which offers them basically “wild” conditions and preps them for their return to nature – hopefully.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: Brendan van Son is a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. He has visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than he has the desire to count. Check out his profile on . for a little bit more about him.

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10 Comments

  1. What a wonderful collection of photos, Brendan. Sounds like a great place to visit and support…I especially smiled at the second photo.

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    • Thanks Jenna :D

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  2. Awesome photos! Is it just me or do their facial expressions make them look really unhappy!?

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    • Thanks mate – Yeah, they look a bit sad… but then again they were captured as pets I’ll be they are a bit sad.

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    • Matt – Thanks mate! I’m using a 70-200mm Canon f/2.8 which is amazing. I photographed my sister’s wedding which was a nervous experience for me. So I did a bunch of studying on how to take great people photos and the thing I kept noticing was “find something to put in the foreground”. I’ve now tried to apply that to animals as well. There was a big open angle to photograph this chimp from that would have been a nice clean shot, but I chose to find a hole in a bush to shoot through to get that foreground bokeh. Adding foreground bokeh to images, people or animals, makes it look more “Real” and more “caught in the wild”. Who knew I’d learn something from a day as a wedding photographer.

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  3. Beautiful photography and great story, Brendan. We always love your work. This is a sanctuary I’d love to see. We are off to Bali in April and I’m looking forward to going to the Monkey Forest in Ubud, though I hope it isn’t just a tourist trap.

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    • Thanks Deborah, Tacugama is absolutely class and the farthest thing from a tourist trap. You should really check it out, there’s even a sweet eco-lodge right near by! I’ve heard good things about Ubud, and I hope it’s not a tourist trap, but like you in a place as touristy as Bali.. .I’m always wary.

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  4. Hi Brendan – these are great photos of our chimps, thanks for spreading the news about our work. We also have a blog for people to stay in touch with what we are up to and there some short videos on our YouTube page too. Hopefully we will see you back at the sanctuary again.

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    • Hi Frankie – Good to hear from you. Tacugama is absolutely class, and I really do hope that word gets out about the wonderful work you’re doing. Hope all is well!

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