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.
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!
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!

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