Human fatality by escaped Pan troglodytes in Sierra Leone

Type Journal Article - International journal of primatology
Title Human fatality by escaped Pan troglodytes in Sierra Leone
Volume 29
Issue 6
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2008
In April 2006, a group of chimpanzees escaped from the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone, resulting in the death of 1 local citizen and injury of another. The chimpanzees caused no further damage after the initial incident. Of the 31 escaped chimpanzees, 27 returned to the sanctuary by the end of 2006, 21 of them voluntarily. The sanctuary is in a forest reserve, a habitat of wild chimpanzees. Ironically, the tragic incident provided an opportunity to observe the behavior of the escaped chimpanzees and their adaptability in the forest. As a result of the incident, local communities could have come to fear the chimpanzees or develop negative feelings toward the sanctuary and its activities, which include keeping a colony of orphaned chimpanzees for rehabilitation and promoting the protection of wild populations. However, collaboration and understanding among the sanctuary, local communities, and government authorities resulted in peaceful handling of the situation and the humane retrieval of 27 of the escaped chimpanzees. As the number of chimpanzees in African sanctuaries increases, they are responsible more than ever for minimizing hazards to surrounding communities. It is important for sanctuaries to develop understanding and to raise support from local communities and government authorities to help them avoid crises and continue their activities.

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