Neighbor Ape

Our organization strives to conserve the habitat of wild chimpanzees in southeastern Senegal, to protect the chimpanzees themselves, and to provide for the wellbeing of the Senegalese people who have traditionally lived in the area alongside these chimpanzees. Our goal is to promote sustainable conservation practices that take into account the needs of local humans, in part by providing assistance to the people of the various local villages in the region.
Mar 21, 2014

New Healthcare Dispensary Opens in April 2014!

Dispensary construction at dormitory in Senegal
Dispensary construction at dormitory in Senegal

Neighbor Ape continues to provide financial assistance for local people living in the villages of Fangoli, Tenkoto, Petit Oubadji, Seekoto, and Djendji. Although it is the dry season in southeastern Senegal, malaria cases still occur, and apparently yellow fever also struck the area. In addition to assisting humans in this rural area where adequate healthcare is relatively expensive, ensuring the health of the local human population also helps contribute to the health of the Fongoli chimpanzee community. Since chimpanzees are so closely related to humans, they can contract illnesses from us but usually do not have the same immunity to diseases that we do, especially ones that are new to them.

The largest healthcare project that Neighbor Ape is currently involved in is the construction and continued support of a dispensary at the Neighbor Ape/OBARAR dormitory for Beudick schoolchildren in Kedougou. This dorm allows rural children, largely of Beudick ancestry but also including other children such as several from the Bassari village of Petit Oubadji, to live in Kedougou so that they can attend the schools in this regional town. While most rural villages have schools, they are poorly funded compared to larger schools in regional towns, and teachers are often absent because of the difficulties in traveling long distances from their homes to these villages.

The dormitory is scheduled to be completed in April, and the dispensary will provide basic medical supplies and care. We also plan to help finance some of the students' costs of such care, especially in cases where parents are unable to help out financially or where parents cannot be contacted immediately because of the distance between the dormitory and the students' home villages where communication is limited. We hope to help train someone to work in the dispensary and will keep you updated on the progress of this goal!

Feb 18, 2014

Dormitory nearing completion!

OBARAR Dorm lodgings
OBARAR Dorm lodgings

GREAT news from Kedougou, Senegal is that the Neighbor-Ape/OBARAR dormitory will be complete by April! I visited Senegal in late December/early January and was able to visit the dormitory site and get all the updates!

While the dormitory might look pretty basic, it does in fact provide more amenities than most rural Senegalese people in the region are used to. I was able to observe workers finishing the sewer system as well as begining the construction of the showers. There are already living quarters for boys and girls, and the well has been functional for some time. The quarters for the dorm chaperones are also built, and going up now is a guest house for visiting parents. After the necessities have been built, a small dispensary will also be built.  The entire dorm will be surrounded by a stone and bamboo fence, and there will also be a shade shelter for sitting outside.

The students will move into the dormitory before school is let out this year! We are currently renting lodging in Kedougou, but we anticipate that the students will be able to move in within the next few weeks!

The dormitory is really an amazing opportunity to bring education to young Senegalese who would not be able to get access to the quality of education they can get in town - or even at all - before this project was realized. This is the biggest project that Neighbor Ape has tackled to date, and it would not have been possible without the kindness of donors!

Lots of bricks!
Lots of bricks!
OBARAR dorm quarters for chaperones
OBARAR dorm quarters for chaperones
OBARAR directors (Leon & Dondo) show me around
OBARAR directors (Leon & Dondo) show me around
OBARAR dormitory, Kedougou, Senegal
OBARAR dormitory, Kedougou, Senegal
Kaly Camara and assistant working hard!
Kaly Camara and assistant working hard!
Jan 16, 2014

Orphan chimpanzee Toto growing up!

Toto and his caretaker Ousmane in January 2014.
Toto and his caretaker Ousmane in January 2014.

I was lucky enough to be able to visit with Toto briefly at the beginning of January, when I spent a week at my study site in Senegal to see how things are going. We have a period in which we quarantine ourselves (for a two-week period) following international flights, so that I was unable to interact with Toto since the appropriate amount of time had not passed. However, I was able to visit him and observe him briefly as well as speak with his main caretaker. Of course, Janis Carter is his official caretaker, and he is constantly being monitored regarding his health and development. 

Toto is now one year and four months old, and he is VERY healthy! In terms of size, he is the same size as the five-year old wild infant "Cy" in my Fongoli study group. This year, Toto will theoretically be able to survive on his own, by eating foods that wild chimpanzees do, even though infant chimpanzees in the wild usually nurse for around four years. Reintroducing Toto to his natal group or to another group in Senegal are definite possibilities that we have in mind for Toto's future, but there are also other possibilities, such as sending him to an established chimpanzee sanctuary or perhaps building a chimpanzee sanctuary in Senegal for the handful of captive chimpanzees in this country that are in the zoo in the capitol city of Dakar. 

Toto is adept at climbing now and sometimes walks bipedal - likely because all of his role models in recent history have been humans! We hope to be able to soon introduce Toto to members of his own species but of course do not want to do so before he is ready. Given his rapid development, we are hopeful that he will be a dominant force in any group to which he is introduced! Without your kind contributions, we could not have taken in this orphan and cared for him as we have. Please stay tuned for more news of Toto's future! 

Toto is really good at climbing trees now!
Toto is really good at climbing trees now!
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