By Alloycious David (Freelance Journalist)
The Department of Compliance and Enforcement at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has turned a baby chimpanzee over to authorities of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection (LCRP) in Monrovia.
LCRP is the first and only combined chimpanzee sanctuary, protection and conservation organization in the country. Through its sanctuary, LCRP arrests illegally captive chimpanzees and other endangered spices and rehabilitate or release them to their original habitat.
The chimpanzee was rescued by Tourmy M. Flomo of the EPA on Wednesday, November 21, and later turned over to the LCRP.
The animal, popularly known locally, albeit erroneously, as baboon, was confiscated from a male trader (not named) when he was in the process of trading the ape.
According to Flomo, the man’s action contravened section six of the National Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Law, which prohibits the hunting, killing, capturing and selling of endangered species.
“After noticing that he had violated the animal law, the trader, whose identity was not established, escaped the scene, thus making it difficult to prosecute him for breaching the law,” Flomo said.
There are prescribed penalties ranging from six months imprisonment to US$500 fine for anyone who violates the National Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Law.
Kawusu Moussa Toure, EPA Assistant Manager for Environmental Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), turned the chimpanzee over to LCRP Representative Jenny Desmond. Toure said that the lack of adequate awareness and information dissemination is causing people to hunt, capture and kill protected species.
Toure therefore stressed the need to engage stakeholders. He said that habitats of protected species are being tampered with, thus making them vulnerable to human population.
Receiving the chimp, Ms. Desmond lauded the EPA for initiating the rescue mission. She said that LCRP now has over 30 orphan rescued chimps in their home at the National Public Health Institute in Margibi County.
According to her, the number of chimps that has been rescued suggests that over 300 adult chimps have been killed. Madam Desmond described the rescued ape as a “Western Chimpanzee,” which she said is critically endangered, because the population of that kind of chimp has decreased by 85 percent in 20 years.
She said that chimpanzees in their care would soon be relocated to a new 100 forested acres in Margibi County, where they are building a sanctuary and conservation center for chimps.