A male dry meat dealer said to be working for Senator Botoe Kanneh of Gbarpolu County was arrested after being found in possession of six single barrel shots and immediately turned over to the Liberia National Police (LNP) for prosecution at the Gbarma Magisterial Court in Gbarma District, Gbarpolu County.
The suspect, identified as Peter Wonmein, was charged for violating the Wildlife Protection Law of Liberia and forwarded to the Gbarma Magisterial Court on Tuesday September 14, 2021 for prosecution.
The Associate Magistrate of the Gbarma Magisterial Court, Boima H. Cooper who presided over the case between the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and suspect Wonmein, charged him with three counts, namely illegal possession of bushmeat, protected animal and hunting of wildlife.
Magistrate Cooper fined Mr. Wonmein US$250.00 to be paid in the Government of Liberia revenue and the 17 bodies of dry monkey bush meats were confiscated pending the burning of them at a later date.
Meanwhile, the FDA has accused Gbarpolu County Senator Botoe Kanneh of undermining the implementation of the Wildlife Protection Law of Liberia.
According to the Manager of the Confiscation and Anti-Smuggling Unit of the FDA’s Forest Rangers, Ali Kais, Senator Kanneh has continued to interfere with the implementation of the law protecting wildlife in the country.
Manager Kais alleged that Senator Kanneh and her bodyguards attacked members of the Forest Rangers at the Sawmill checkpoint on Monday, September 13, 2021 when a suspect was arrested for carrying 17 bodies of dry monkey bush meats along with a little living monkey.
He noted that Senator Kanneh’s alleged action poses serious threat against the operation of forest rangers to protect wildlife species across the nation.
He pinpointed that recently members of the forest rangers were firstly attacked at VOA junction in Brewerville by Senator Kanneh and her bodyguards after eight bags of bushmeat were confiscated at Janet checkpoint but forcefully taken away from them.
Manager Kais disclosed that Liberia is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which is intended to protect wildlife in Liberia.
He maintained that an act adopting the National Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Law of Liberia was approved on October 5, 2016, which must be enforced by the forest rangers and other security sectors of Liberia.
“We cannot sit here as a government and allow single hunters or group of individuals to destroy our biodiversity. It is important to note that these wildlife species attract tourism and the country can benefit as a whole,” he added.
For his part, the Wildlife Protection Officer or the Humane Society International (HSI) assigned in Western Region of Liberia, Jallah Fahnbulleh said the prevention and protection of wildlife species are critical to preserving the biodiversity of Liberia.
Mr. Fahnbulleh stated that prosecution and confiscation of protected animals will go a long way in curtailing killing and hunting of wildlife species in the country.
He indicated that the HSI has been working with FDA to educate law enforcers about the significance of protecting the rights of animals across the nation.
He explained that the killing and selling of wildlife should not be the only alternative for livelihood, thus noting that if the government and partners are not robust to battle wildlife crime now, the endangered species will be finished in the near future from Liberia.