Man Arrested, Prosecuted for Illegal Possession of Chimp

Poacher Stephen Barlee with Captive Chimpanzee.

“… for every young chimpanzee being sold, an estimated 5-10 adult chimpanzees have also been killed.” -FDA

The Grand Gedeh City Magisterial Court has sentenced one Stephen Barlee to prison for three months on charges of economic sabotage and illegal possession of a chimpanzee, thereby contravening the Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Law of Liberia, a release from the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) has said.

According to the release, the arrest and subsequent prosecution of Stephen Barlee comes in the wake of the unwavering move by FDA and other conservation partners to ensure that the law that protects wildlife against willful abuse by poachers remains decisive, and categorical in all respects.

On Monday, August 12, 2019, FDA rangers arrested Stephen Barlee with a baby chimp around the Grebo Krahn National Park, while attempting to sell it. Chapter 11, Section 11.2 of the Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Law emphatically forbids the hunting, killing, eating, selling, or possession of wild animals, including chimpanzees.

The suspect was then taken to court, charged and convicted. He is currently serving a 90-day jail sentence in Grand Gedeh prison in the South East.

Meanwhile, the Grebo/Krahn Chief Park Warden, NP Joseph Green, assisted by the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation’s field team assigned in Grand Gedeh have escorted the chimpanzee to ‘safety.’

According to the release, the chimpanzee will receive lifetime care from FDA partner, Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection (LCRP), which is making sure that the law is duly implemented to save the lives of wildlife.

It can be recalled that on May 21, 2019, the Cestos City Magisterial Court in River Cess County fined one Comfort Walker US$100 for illegally possessing wildlife (chimpanzee).

The chimp was confiscated by officers of the Liberia National Police assigned at the ITI checkpoint in River Cess County on March 3, 2019, and subsequently turned over to the FDA and LCRP.

The FDA, in her complaint filed before the court alleged that the act of defendant Stephen Barlee was unlawful, criminal, wicked, wrongful, intentional and malicious, which contravened section 11.1g (illegal possession of wildlife-chimp) which falls under the National Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Law of Liberia.

The defendant pleaded guilty to the charges in open court void of argument and made an initial payment of L$10,000.

“West African chimpanzees are a critically endangered species putting them at risk of extinction,” the FDA said. “It is extremely important to note that for every young chimpanzee being sold, an estimated 5-10 adult chimpanzees have also been killed. This criminal activity is decimating Liberia’s wild populations at an alarming rate. Known as ‘Gardeners of the Forest’, chimpanzees protect our survival and act as a keystone species for all wildlife.”

The move by FDA and its partners is viewed as a major success in their drive to effectively promote public awareness regarding Liberia’s Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management law and combating illegal wildlife crime throughout the country and the region.

Lead organizations partnering with the FDA in implementation of national and international wildlife crime initiatives, include the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, Fauna and Flora International, Liberia Chimpanzee and Protection and others, thanks to the generous support of donors such as the European Union, USAID-funded West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change program and the government of the United Kingdom.

These critical programs focus on a holistic approach to combating crimes against wildlife and nature through increased public awareness, strengthened law enforcement, training and capacity building and greater involvement of local community members in the responsible and sustainable management of natural resources.

The continued success of operations like this are key to the protection and conservation of Liberia’s unique and important biodiversity for generations to come.


  1. In my humble view, Barlee should have been given a punishment sentence that’s stiffer than 3 months. It is a bigoted idea to travel with a chimpanzee in a town, city or anywhere other than a zoo or perhaps the original habitat of the creature. Barlee is one of the illiterates who thinks it is okay to do anything that comes into head.

  2. why do we speak on emotions and not facts? or look at reality. if the police director, senator, representative, president or vice president son was going to be the one, what would have happen? is there any laws on this? if so, is it been spread or told to all to follow? are people require to have paper to carry pets now? if so what happen to the dogs and cats in the community, the chicken? despite of them been not harmful, they too need protection. this guy was afraid and never had lawyer to back him. he is wrong yes, but not to take money from him or send him to jail even if there was such law, let the FDA start to collect all the dogs in the street, take them for save keeping, the chicken, cats, and others.
    in my view if this was not ok as FDA said, the man did not steal the animal, it should be taken from him, kept in a place where he will be free to go and see it every time like the zoo. it is wrong to take money from this man.
    they should be encouraging people by taking the animals from them and paying them to for these animals since they cannot go to get the animals for display.

    not people will kill the animals instead of bring them out for others to see or even seal alive.

    will what ever the government says is always right in Liberia

  3. Hello Mr. Kae,
    By nature, I present myself as an individual who is not offensive. I hit back only when there is an adversarial aggression aimed at me.

    You seem to be upset about what my post states. But, no harm was intended. I do believe that the truth must be told always. The truth was what I told in my post.

    A chimp and other monkeys like it belong in their natural habitat. Some animal lovers prefer to keep animals at a zoo. Also, some scientists do experiments on animals for medicinal purposes. However, Honorable Kae, it makes absolutely no sense for a chimp that’s been captured in the wild to be carried around in a town or city for publicity purposes. Come on Mr. Kae. Wake up to the smell of reality.

    Look man. You compared domesticated animals with an animal that lives in the wild. Your comparison, I am afraid cannot stand the test of any time. Okay, with regard to dogs, hens and roosters, goats, cows and sheep,…..when on earth do you see people carry chicks, little dogs and calves on their backs in the streets of Zwedru or any city?

    Lastly, Barlee the baby chimp carrier, was in violation of a law that bars such a practice. Will you disagree?
    Mr. Kae, please tell Barlee to behave. I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings bro.

  4. Certain animals are endangered species and most be protected and the chimp is an endangered species and so the law did not erred with it sentenced Mr. Barlee. Public education has to be carried out concerning issues like these so all can be aware that there are certain penalties that goes with trying to domesticate certain wildlife.

    Dogs, cats, chickens are domestic animals, Mr. Kae, so dont go comparing them with the likes of the chimps. I am sure that Mr. Barlee was not in the know of the law, but as they say, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Hopefully he learned his lesson well

  5. Gentlemen, I would like to know how long has this law been in effect, prohibiting wild animals from the communities and confining them only in the wild or zoos? I can remember vividly, so many Liberians, countless numbers, kept monkeys in their yard as pets. Some folks also kept baboons and chimpanzees in their yard in cages or on chains.

  6. Bobby,
    To be honest with you, I don’t know how long such a law has been in existence. I do know that such a law exists. Now, if you read the first 4-5 paragraphs of the above article, you’ll know for sure that a Liberian law that protects endangered species in the wild is being actively enforced. For instance, Barlee’s butt was ordered to be put behind bars for three months. The action was taken against Barlee because a law such as that exists.

    Now Bobby, does one have to know how long a law exists before it is believed? In your specific situation, do you think Barlee was being picked on or harassed by the government?

    Finally, you mentioned in your post that there was a time when “some unnamed” Liberians cared for monkeys and other wildlife creatures in cages. That maybe true, Bobby! But let’s face it. The very people who owned, cared for and caged wildlife animals did not behave like Barlee.

    This is what Barlee did:
    Barlee displayed an endangered animal (a chimp) in a handmade pouch and carried the creature somewhere around his groins. Bobby, does Barlee’s act of displaying an animal around his groins’ area excite you? Barlee tried to grandstand. Sadly, his tactic was bizarre.

    I am sorry to say this, but it’s the truth. Barlee’s showboating tactic boomerang big time. He will learn a mini lesson after he serves his three-month jail sentence.

  7. Thanks to the FDA and LNP for acting swiftly in putting stop to this uncivilized behaviors. Tougher laws need to be put in place to stop people poaching these endangered animals.


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