single-image

Dr. Jane Goodall awarded Sierra Leone’s highest honor

Manya Seisay

Dr. Jane Goodall believes that the development of alternative revenue sources in Sierra Leone is a key conservation strategy.

Dr. Jane Goodall was awarded Sierra Leone’s highest honor on 27 February 2019 when President Julius Maada Bio decorated her as an officer of the Order of the Rokel.

Dr. Goodall, 84, is a world-renowned primatologist and anthropologist whose study of wild chimpanzees has spanned more than half a century. She is also a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

Sierra Leone is home to 10% of the world’s wild chimpanzee population.

On 28 February 2019, the chimpanzee was declared the national animal of Sierra Leone.

What is the Order of the Rokel?

The Order of the Rokel was established in 1972 by Siaka Stevens, the first president of Sierra Leone, to recognize outstanding contributions to the nation in public service, philanthropy, arts and sciences

Dr. Jane Goodall Order of the Rokel Sierra Leone
Dr. Jane Goodall played a key role in the founding of Sierra Leone’s Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

It consists of five classes: Grand Commander, Commander, Grand Officer, and Member.

The Order is named for the Rokel River, the largest in the country. It is traditionally awarded by the president annually on 27 April,  Sierra Leone’s Independence Day

Previous Sierra Leonean honorees include President Joseph Saidu Momoh, Paramount Chief Ella Koblo Gulama and Supreme Court Justice Vivian Margaret Solomon

Dr. Goodall is one of the few non-citizens of Sierra Leone to receive the honor. She joins the ranks of U.S. historian Joseph Opala and British General David Richards, Baron Richards of Herstmonceux.

The fight to protect Sierra Leone’s wild chimpanzees

President Bio praised Dr.Goodall’s groundbreaking work, “Thank you for your dedication and hard work around the world and rest assured we will support you. I will join my colleagues who are active in supporting wildlife around the world.”

Jane Goodall Order of the Rokel Wild Chimpanzee 2019
Sierra Leone is home to 10% of the world’s endangered wild chimpanzee population. Photo: Amr Miqdadi.

The president’s remarks underscored the commitment of his administration to protecting the wild chimpanzees of Sierra Leone.

A 2010 study by Oxford University determined that Sierra Leone is home to 10% of the total wild chimpanzee population, approximately 5,500 chimps.

The fight to protect the wild chimpanzees of Sierra Leone is urgent. Disease, deforestation, and bushmeat hunting are leading causes of their endangerment.

Tragically, they are already extinct in other West African nations including Burkina Faso, Benin, and Gambia.

The American Journal of Primatology reports that between 1990 and 2014 the overall population of wild chimpanzees declined by more than 80%

The work of Jane Goodall and The Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary

In 1995, Dr. Goodall played a key role in the founding of Sierra Leone’s Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary with Sharmila and Bala Amarasekaran.

Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary Jane Goodall
Dr. Goodall believes that development of alternative revenue sources is a key conservation strategy for Sierra Leone. Photo: Rishi Ragunathan

The Sanctuary is home to approximately 100 rescued chimpanzees who have been trafficked and abused. It is nestled in the forests of the Western Area Peninsula National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that spans 17,000 hectares.

Tacugama also has an off-site program which conducts community outreach, field research, and conservation training.

Dr. Goodall believes that the development of alternative revenue sources in Sierra Leone is a key conservation strategy, “You have wonderful forests and areas which people around the world will like to come and visit. I will do my level best to help conservation which might include tourism or agro-culture to help conservation in Sierra Leone.”

Watch the video: Jane Goodall Honoured in Sierra Leone

Watch Jane Goodall Honoured in Sierra Leone.

Cite this article

Seisay, Manya, ‘Dr. Jane Goodall awarded Sierra Leone’s highest honor’. Published online on 3 March 2019 (https://www.manyaseisay.com/jane-goodall-sierra-leone/)

Bibliography