Forestry Development Authority (FDA) said it will prosecute anyone, specifically elephant hunters, suspected of killing endangered species.
The entity made the pronouncement shortly after a five-man wildlife experts, headed by Benjamin Tennessee Plewon, deputy managing director for Administration/Finance, returned to Monrovia from a fact-finding mission in Grand Cape Mount County where it had gone to conduct an on-the-spot investigation into the cause of death of an elephant.
During its investigation, according to a release, it was observed that one out of three hunters got killed by the wounded elephant in “retaliation” before the animal’s death.
According to the release, it is estimated by wildlife experts that the animal retaliated on the basis of the first rule of nature, including self-preservation.
Elephants, like all other animals living in the wild, hate to be hampered, provoked and threatened, wildlife officials at FDA say.
The two accused surviving hunters, Moses Dennis and Larmine Selman, reportedly accompanied their colleague in the forest to set traps, at which time they heard their colleague yelling and calling for help as he was being attacked by an elephant.
According to them, they immediately hid themselves. Later, they went to the victim’s rescue and took him to the varguaye Town Clinic. He was later referred to the Bomi County Hospital, where he died.
The other hunters were arrested by Rangers and officers in collaboration with officers of the Liberia National police (LNP).
Following investigation, the accused were turned over to the Magisterial Court in Lofa Bridge for prosecution.
Meanwhile, Mr. Plewon has promised that the FDA will prosecute those arrested and make sure that they face the full weight of the law.
He added: “The law has been passed and awareness carried out that anyone who harms or kills protected species such as elephants, chimpanzee, etc. will face a 15-year jail sentence or pay a fine of US$5,000.
Mr. Plewon said that FDA will not relent to prosecute any killer that “tempers with our endanger animals.”
He said that those arrested will be transferred to Monrovia for prosecution to serve as deterrence to other hunters, who might have harbored similar sentiment.
“Elephants don’t easily harm humans, except where it is harmed,” Plewon said.
He therefore advised the hunters and citizens to observe and respect wildlife laws that govern and protect animals. He however, did not say how the elephant carcass was disposed of neither did he provide any information on the tusks of the dead elephant. According to informed sources, some Monrovia based former politicians are engaged in the illegal poaching of elephants for their tusks.
Further according to the source a leopard was killed recently in the Gola forest and its skin was dried and sent to Monrovia to a certain high profiled individual. An FDA official (name withheld) when contacted claimed that his agency did not have such information.