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.
Photos of Chimpanzees
The thing I love about chimpanzees is that they remind me of the rawest version of myself. They are full of uninhibited emotion. They are wild, and free. But they are so relatable. And while in wildlife photography was always talk about trying to avoid “humanizing” animals – giving them human characteristic – it’s hard when we’re so similar.
In making these photos of the chimpanzees at Tacugama, I really wanted to focu on capturing their behaviour. I wanted to get as close as I could with my 70-200mm lens, but I also wanted to include the environment in which they live.
Visiting Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Tacugama is very open to the public and even often looking for volunteers. It’s a great program, and an incredible place to see chimpanzees fairly up close without causing damage to their livelihood. Visiting places like this not only helps the chimpanzees, but also signals to the local popular that wildlife needs to be protected.