By Anne Look
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. More....