Sierra Leone is one of West Africa's most attractive destinations, but beyond the white sand beaches, the lush forests and nature reserves are home to chimpanzees — primates whose numbers have severely declined in the country since 1970.
According to Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, an estimated 20,000 wild chimps were living in the west African country in the early '70s, and today there are less than 3,000. Guests visit the sanctuary, learning how they take in orphaned and endangered chimps to save them from the various threats to their existence: the pet and bushmeat trade, habitat destruction, human encroachment and their use in laboratories.
The sanctuary, close to Freetown, covers 100 acres of critical rainforest and watershed terrain and is currently home to more than 100 chimps.
Visitors will have a unique chance for nature travel at the sanctuary, where they can learn what the chimps eat, how they are fed and cared for, as well as the ways in which they socialize with each other.
According to the sanctuary's website, social grooming is one of the most important social behaviors among chimps. Cleaning each other, they maintain or improve friendships and reinforce inter-group bonds.
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