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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid