Orphaned chimpanzee Shemesh was just a baby when she was rescued by Avi & Talila Sivan in Yaoundé. This gentle and intelligent chimp inspired Talila's involvement in Ape Action Africa (then CWAF) as she sought ways to offer Shemesh the best possible life. In 2003, Avi and Talila were appointed Directors of the charity. Together they took our sanctuary from a fledgling rehabilitation and care project to one of the largest primate sanctuaries in Africa. Avi's strength, leadership and incredible generosity helped us succeed in giving a second chance to hundreds of abused and orphaned primates, with Avi and Talila overseeing vast improvements to the enclosures, veterinary care, transport, security and infrastructure at Mefou.

In 2010 we were all devastated when Avi died in a tragic helicopter accident. Avi was a very charismatic man, his energy filled the room and the generosity and support of Avi and his wife Talila will never be forgotten by all of us in the forest. They brought an unrivalled passion to primate conservation in Cameroon and their impact endures, and will do so for many years to come at Ape Action Africa.

   

   

After Avi's untimely death Rachel Hogan took over as Director and said, "He was the biggest inspiration in my life and he taught us all many things. His attitude was that there was never such a word as a problem and he never gave up, there was always a way."

Avi's presence is still felt in the forest. Our workers' accommodation block, 'Colonel Avi Sivan House' was opened in 2011 and our annual football match in Avi's memory is always a keenly fought contest. Our team, The Silverbacks, battle it out with The Warriors of Bastos, a military team, and the winners have the honour of walking away with the Colonel Avi Sivan Cup. Every year we hold a memorial for Avi in the forest and last year we proudly unveiled a sculpture of him in the Avi Sivan Memorial Garden.

   

   

Avi and Talila's legacy will never be forgotten and nor will Avi, who was a friend, father, and inspiration to us all. 

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