Fort Pierce, FL: Save the Chimps, the world’s largest privately funded sanctuary for retired chimpanzees located in Fort Pierce, Florida announced that its Director of Chimpanzee Care and Behavior, Dr. Andrew Halloran, has traveled to Sierra Leone, Africa on a chimpanzee conservation trip he undertakes annually. The trip is part of a multi-year, international campaign Dr. Halloran has undertaken in an effort to save chimpanzees living in the wild called the Tonkolili Chimpanzee Project, founded in 2012.
As humans and chimpanzees are being forced closer and closer, there exists a war for the remaining natural resources in Africa. Chimps raid farms for food, farmers defend their land. “Unfortunately this is a growing reality for wild chimpanzees and unless we can find more ways of community based conservation, the future for wild chimpanzees is bleak,” stated Dr. Halloran.
The Tonkolili Chimpanzee Project was started to save several family groups of chimpanzees living in an environment under continual threat of human encroachment. The chimpanzees, who occupy an ever-shrinking forest fragment, have a long standing, albeit, contentious history of interaction with the nearby villages and farms. “I am there to help find ways of mitigating conflicts between humans and chimpanzees through sustainable economic empowerment,” stated Dr. Halloran. In fact, the Tonkoklili Chimpanzee Project has undertaken some innovative initiatives to give farmers incentives to not retaliate against chimpanzees including providing alternative forms of income via livestock and other sustainable projects.
Dr. Halloran, author of the book Song of the Ape, has documented his time in Sierra Leone in a twelve part serial published in the Earth Island Journal entitled Lion Shaped Mountain (it can be found at www.earthislandjournal.org). – soon to be published in book form by Ingram publishing. Shedding aside all preconceived notions about what is known about chimpanzee behavior, in Lion Shaped Mountain, Dr. Halloran recounts a remarkable tale of survival, and of extreme adaptation.
Dr. Andrew R. Halloran is a primatologist who studies chimpanzee ecology, communication, and behavior. Dr. Halloran is a research affiliate with the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone as well as the founder of the Tonkolili Chimpanzee Project in Central Sierra Leone which seeks to find sustainable solutions to chimpanzee conservation through economic empowerment of local villages.
A Legacy of Caring
Since its founding in 1997 by Primatologist Dr. Carole Noon, the sanctuary has successfully retired 333 chimpanzees from unsuitable living conditions, allowing them to live out their days in a safe, secure, and vibrantly social community alongside their fellow chimpanzees. The retired chimps now live in large family groups on 12 separate three-acre islands, where they receive three fresh meals daily, first rate medical care, and a variety of activities in an enriched environment. For more information or to donate your time or treasure, visit savethechimps.org.