‘Animal and Forest’ Law Passed, Will the Liberian Senate Concur?

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A bill to protect rare and endangered species from being hunted and slaughtered, has been passed by the House of Representatives and awaits the Senate’s concurrence.

The bill called “The National Wildlife Conservation and Protection Area Management Act,” is designed to protect certain animal and plant species, meaning that hunting or harvesting these species will be largely outlawed.

The bill was endorsed during the 19th day sitting of the extraordinary session on Tuesday, November 11, after the House Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Judiciary presented its report to Plenary.

According to the Committee’s report, the bill also seeks to strengthen regional and trans-boundary collaboration and coordination and also create employment opportunities for forest dependents, rangers, field guides and build capacity and create tourism dollars for the forest communities.

“The law will assist in the creation of more habitats for more wildlife protection and livelihoods supports of adjacent communities,” Representative Josephine M. George-Francis, the Chairperson of the Committee said.

The report added: “The law will assist in the creation of more jobs and employment opportunities for many forest dependent communities.”

Though all the protected animals are not specified in the Committee’s report, some argue that the “animals" should include amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles and their young and also, in the cases of birds and reptiles, their eggs.

They further argued that the law against hunting should include capturing, killing, poisoning, snaring, or trapping of any wild animal, and every attempt to do so; driving any wild animal for any of the purposes specified in sub clauses; injuring, destroying or taking any body part of any such animal, or in the case of wild birds or reptiles, disturbing or damaging the eggs or nests of such birds or reptiles.

“Forests are home to approximately two-thirds of the world's plants and animals. As trees are cleared and forests degraded, the unique flora and fauna that depend on these ecosystems come under threat of extinction,” Madam Florence Brooks of Capitol Bye-Pass said. “To protect endangered species and prevent those not currently threatened from joining their ranks, it is vital that we conserve forestlands.”

The motion for the passage of the law was filed by Montserrado County Lawmaker Sekou Kanneh and unanimously agreed upon, after an hour of debate.

Speaker Alex Tyler has mandated Chief Clerk, Mildred Sayon, to communicate the House’s passage of the National Wildlife Conservation and Protection Area Management Act to the Liberian Senate for concurrence.

According to the Liberian Senate’s Secretariat, the National Wildlife Conservation and Protection Area Management Act has been received and will be discussed either today or next week.

Meanwhile, one of the main carriers of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease is bush meat, especially monkey and bat, according to international health authorities.   The hunting and selling of bush meat, especially monkey and bat which are favorite ingredients of many Liberian dishes, have been banned on the local market by the government.

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