LIBERIA: Gov’t Gradually Climbs Down on Wildlife Poachers -Another Elephants Killer Punished

By: Moses R. Quollin (Environmental Journalist, Liberia Forest Media Watch) quollinmoses@gmail.com +231770922412/+231880922412 |

Forestry Development Authority (FDA) Rangers with Confiscated Bushmeat

Salayea District, Lofa County: “On the 14th of September 2019 I went to Ma-vortor to help with the road construction work. On my way back to Camp Pewee on the same day I met with elephants on the road. I was able to kill one small one among them with my single barrel gun. After killing the elephant, I went to Camp Pewee where I spent the night. The following day I went with some people to butcher the elephant. “A notorious elephant’s killer, John Z. David said in his confession.

Before the Salayea Magisterial court, Mr. David was charged for hunting and killing of a protected species and possession of a firearm (section 6.3.2 & 17.9 of the penal law) of the Wildlife and Protected Area Management Law of Liberia.

In its ruling against John Z. David, the court stated “Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, defendant John Z. David is guilty of the crime – hunting and killing of a protected species and possession of a firearm. Therefore he is hereby sentenced to an imprisonment of one year and will pay a fine of USD$2,500.00 or its Liberian dollar equivalent.”

Culprit John Z. David displays the confiscated ivory from a young elephant.

According to the law forest elephants are an endangered species and are fully protected in Liberia. (Chapter 13 of the Wildlife Law of Liberia, Appendix I:  List of Fully Protected Animals (a).  “The hunting, capturing and destroying of animals listed in this Appendix without a valid permit, license or certificate issued by the Authority is an offense under the provisions of this Act”.

John Z. David, who successively killed more than six elephants in his predetermined act to ruin the wildlife generation for commercial purposes and personal gains was arrested, dragged to court and sentenced to one year imprisonment and a $2,500USD fine imposed, upon pleading guilty to the commission of the crime.

According to sources, the culprit, who hails from Kpowansanyea Town, Salayea District, Lofa County told the joint security team led by FDA representatives and partners during a recent investigation, that as a part of an organized crime syndicate, he had killed many elephants in his drive to gain fame and become a possible replacement of his mentor who trains individuals in the highly illegal activity.

Meanwhile, the joint team of investigators also confiscated two live chimpanzees in Zorzor City, Lofa County from Korpo Kollie and Lorpu Lormount.

Officials told the Liberia Forest Media Watch (LFMW) that the two suspects were taken to the Liberia National Police, later charged and sent  to the Zorzor Magisterial  Court for prosecution consistent with Section 6.3.2 Protected Species Controls (a) Except as provided in this Section State: “No Person shall hunt, kill, capture, injure, harass, or trade any protected species, live or dead, or any part thereof, identified in the list established and maintained by the Authority under Subsection 6.3.(b)(2) of this Law” and Section 11.2   Specific Offences and Penalties (g) states: “Possession of live animal without permit or license and the fine is US $100 to $150 or three months imprisonment.” Both perpetrators were convicted, with Kollie charged a USD$100.00 fine and Lormount pending contempt of court unless the fine is paid or prison sentence is served.

An official statement from the Forestry Development Authority said: “This mission stemmed from an earlier trip led by the Society for Conservation of Nature of Liberia, during which reports of illegal hunting of elephants, commercial bushmeat activities and the trafficking of live chimpanzees were revealed.

The mission, conducted by FDA, Liberia National Police, Trans National Crime Unit and the Ministry of Justice was organized and supported by Flora & Fauna International, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, and Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection.”

“Important initiatives like this are the result of highly collaborative efforts led by the FDA and its Law Enforcement Sub Committee under Liberia’s Species Working Group, and made possible through the financial support from organizations such as the European Union, USAID WABiCC, the British government and more, and will continue as enforcement of Liberia’s wildlife laws are declared one of the country’s highest priorities.

FDA and its partners are equally prioritizing nationwide public awareness activities and education to ensure the long term protection and conservation of Liberia’s unique wildlife and biodiversity.” FDA’s Public Relation Officer, Shelton Gonkarwon told the Liberia Forest Media Watch late Wednesday evening of October 9, 2019.

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About Cholo Brooks 10620 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.