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.
Dec 2, 2013

Healthcare Project in Senegal Update

Future dormitory resident of Kedougou, Senegal!
Future dormitory resident of Kedougou, Senegal!

We are happy to be able to report that our project devoted to providing healthcare in southeastern Senegal is going strong! Neighbor Ape is working in conjunction with OBARAR, a Senegalese organization, to build a dormitory for rural Senegalese children (check out our project on ‘Conserving Chimpanzees through Education’ – last installment is almost completed!), and our healthcare project provides much-needed medicine and medical care to students living in the dorm.

This year, 28 children are residing in the OBARAR dormitory, which is specifically for Bedik children but also welcomes other children in difficult circumstances. For example, we were recently able to fund a student from the Bassari village of Petit Oubadji so that she could move into the dormitory, as she was unable to reliably attend the nearest school, which is about two miles (one way!) from her home village. This is a lengthy walk for a young student 10 times a week, especially when parents are unable to walk their children to school every day because of work-related tasks. Petit Oubadji is a village on the edge of the Fongoli chimpanzees’ home range, and a young man of that village also works for the Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project.

The Bedik group is a minority in Senegal, comprising only five villages in this country, which is the only place they reside. They are traditionally horticulturalists but remain closely tied to the land where they grew up and emphasize knowledge of the environment. Young people still participate in month-long camping trips that immerse them in the natural environment and teach them valuable lessons about the wildlife and vegetation in this area of Senegal. The Sudano-Guinean habitat is relatively unique in terms of housing wild chimpanzees, and it is the reason Neighbor Ape was established in Senegal. We know very little about savanna chimpanzees, and probably less than 500 live in Senegal. It is vital to work with local stakeholders, such as the Bedik people, in order to conserve this endangered species. Neighbor Ape was incorporated to work with local people and to help provide for their wellbeing as well as the chimpanzees that live alongside them. 

Our healthcare project has become specifically geared to providing funds for children in need that are residents of the OBARAR dormitory. Often times these children live far from their home villages, as the dormitory is located in the regional town of Kedougou, where children can have access to better schools. We provide funds for children in immediate need of medical attention, especially in cases where it may take days to contact their parents. We also provide for more than 50% of the healthcare costs of children whose parents are unable to take care of all their healthcare costs. Many people living in rural Senegal have little access to cash, as they are traditionally horticulturalists that grow most of their yearly food supply and plant little in the way of cash crops (to sell). We also plan on funding the building of a small pharmacy on site at the dormitory. The healthcare project is one of the most significant endeavors that Neighbor Ape takes on, as medical care is relatively expensive for people in the Kedougou area, not always reliable and crucial to the health and wellbeing of any person. Without the help of people like you we couldn't provide assistance to those in Senegal less fortunate than ourselves - thank you!


Oct 28, 2013

New School Year Begins in Senegal!

An elder of Djendji village with schoolchildren
An elder of Djendji village with schoolchildren

This is a busy time of year for Neighbor Ape! We have several bits of pretty good news to pass along! First of all, Anna, the student we sponsor in nursing school in Dakar, has started her internship at a pharmacy. We are incredibly excited that Anna has made it so far. There were a number of times where she became somewhat discouraged given the difficulty of her program, but she stuck with it, and she is almost finished. Even better news is that she plans to leave the capitol city of Dakar and return to her home town of Kedougou, putting her skills to work here where they are really needed!

This year marks the 3rd year that we have been able to donate a year's worth of school supplies to the village of Djendji. This is the biggest village in the vicinity of the Fongoli chimpanzee group's home range, and the people of Djendji have greatly facilitated our project over the years. They are very interested in chimpanzee conservation, and elders in the village are genuinely concerned that future generations should be able to experience the beauty of the area, including the wildlife, that they have been able to experience during their lifetimes.

Our dormitory construction project should be finished very soon! Beudick children that will be attending school in Kedougou this year represent a record enrollment! As soon as the boy's quarters are finished, everyone will move from the buildings that OBARAR (a Beudick non-governmental or non-profit organization based in Kedougou, which Neighbor Ape works with on educational and healthcare projects) is renting to the new dormitory that Neighbor Ape has helped construct with the generous donation of Drs. Jewel Slesnick and Harold Marder. Additionally, Neighbor Ape will sponsor at least 2 schoolchildren here from the village of Tenkoto.

We will also be sponsoring 3 girls (Nadege, Katherine & Natalie) in grades ranging from middle school to high school in Tambacounda, a larger town between Kedougou and the capitol of Senegal, Dakar. We will continue to sponsor Alex's schooling in Kedougou, where he is still in primary school.

Neighbor Ape is extremely proud to be able to support a variety of educational projects and, of course, could not do so without your support! An education is very much valued in Senegal, and children and parents alike are very grateful to us and to our donors!

Oct 7, 2013

Orphan chimp Toto is one year old & doing great!

Toto is a little fearful as he learns to climb!
Toto is a little fearful as he learns to climb!

Orphan chimpanzee Toto has just turned one year old, and he has been in our care for just under one year.  He was orphaned at the age of 2 months after his mother died from a lethal snakebite and no other chimpanzees were in the area that could adopt him. With your help we have been able to assist with Toto's care. He is currently living in the town of Kedougou, Senegal, which is only about 10 miles from where he was born, in the Fongoli community of chimpanzees. He is in the charge of Janis Carter, who has a chimpanzee sanctuary in The Gambia (Baboon Islands National Park Chimpanzee Sanctuary), and his care is funded in large part by Friends of Animals organization, which works closely with Janis.

Janis has been caring for orphan chimpanzees in West Africa for more than 30 years, and Toto has 2 full-time caretakers, which means he is never alone. This is crucial for young chimpanzees, as they are never out of contact with their mother during their early years. In fact, if Toto were still with his mother, he would be nursing for another several years.  We will likely have to keep Toto for at least another year, unless there is an opportunity for him to be adopted by a female that has lost her own infant & could still nurse Toto. We are constantly assessing the options available for Toto and are ready to act should an opportunity for him arrive. Toto is very healthy, being more than twice the size of a wild chimp his age, and he fortunately did not suffer the degree of trauma most ape orphans do when they lose their mother.  Most infant apes are acquired after their mother has been killed, and they are kept in sub-standard conditions until they are fortunate enough to be confiscated by someone who can send them to sanctuary. Toto was of course traumatized by the death of this mother, but he was rescued soon after by humans he seemed to recognize (members of our Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project research team), and he was comforted for some time by his older sister Aimee who, unfortunately, could not have taken care of him given she was only 4 and a half years old herself.

We are very optimistic regarding the ultimate fate of Toto, and we could not continue caring for him were it not for the generosity of donors like yourself! Please follow the links provided to see some video of Toto as he explores wild plant foods for the first time and clips of him going out to "the bush".

Toto & one of his caretakers in "the bush"
Toto & one of his caretakers in "the bush"


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