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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More