News / Africa

Poaching in Liberia's Forests Threatens Rare Animals

Liberia's forestry authority said poachers have overrun the country's national parks and are killing elephants, chimpanzees and other protected species for sale on the bushmeat market.

Poachers sell their produce at bush markets like this one in Gabon, where the trader is  displaying bush pigs, duikers, and monkeys for sale (December 2007 file photo)Poachers sell their produce at bush markets like this one in Gabon, where the trader is displaying bush pigs, duikers, and monkeys for sale (December 2007 file photo)
x
Poachers sell their produce at bush markets like this one in Gabon, where the trader is  displaying bush pigs, duikers, and monkeys for sale (December 2007 file photo)
Poachers sell their produce at bush markets like this one in Gabon, where the trader is displaying bush pigs, duikers, and monkeys for sale (December 2007 file photo)
Anne Look
DAKAR - Liberia's forestry authority said poachers have overrun the country's national parks and are killing elephants, chimpanzees and other protected species for sale on the bushmeat market.

Liberia's Gola forest preserve is part of a vast rainforest that once stretched across this part of West Africa but now covers just patches of Liberia and neighboring countries.

The head of conservation at the government Forest Development Authority (FDA), Theo Freeman, said poachers are now threatening the existence of several rare animal species living in the Gola and Sarpo national parks. "There are people who have decided to just get in the forest and hunt everything they come across," he said.

"The hunting also goes on for those species that are fully protected like the leopards, the pygmy hippopotamus, the elephant, the crocodile, jentik duikers, and what have you," Freeman said. "We had about seven species of monkey. They are killing everything."

Freeman said hunters sell the animals as bushmeat, which is often exported to neighboring Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, despite a ban on the cross-border sale of wild animals. "Where we are now is highly commercial. You see truckloads of dried meat, bushmeat endangered or not endangered, coming from rural areas to town," he added.

Freeman said snaring and wire traps are the methods of choice.  He said gunfire draws too much attention.

"A single man in a village who have about 200 or 300 [traps], he sets these things and he won't have a chance to visit the traps throughout the day, or sometimes two or three weeks," Freeman said. "We go on the back roads and we see these things and the animals are dead. You see the bones. Some are getting rotten. It is a very cruel way to hunt."

Rural communities have traditionally hunted and eaten wild animals. However conservationists have long condemned the commercial bushmeat trade as one of the primary threats to African wildlife. Still, the trade continues to thrive in West and Central Africa, in part due to poverty.

Liberian hunter Ben Varney said he cannot find any other way to support his five children. "No job in the country. I need to kill these animals to feed my family," he said.  
"If the government provides job, we will leave the forest. But for now, this is the only place we depend on to supply our needs," Varney added. "I  kill the animals, sell them, to send my children to school and feed my family."

In Liberia, it is illegal to kill protected species like chimpanzees and elephants. However, current laws are weak and vague, making prosecution difficult. Forest rangers are not allowed to carry guns and it is difficult for them to patrol such large expanses of territory.

Freeman said the FDA drafted a revised law that would strengthen punishments for illegal hunting.  However the legislation continues to languish in the president's office.

Meanwhile, he said the hunting continues to push endangered species closer to extinction.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid