The Government of Liberia through the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and partners, both local and international, made some strides in 2019 in ensuring that the Forestry sector of Liberia, particularly Wildlife conservation and biodiversity are protected for the growth and development of the country.
The Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) is one International Partners that continues to work with the people of Liberia, especially at the community level so that the locals understand the importance of protecting their forest.
The WCF is mainly focused in the Southeast Region of the country. And this includes in and around the Grebo-Krahn National Park (GKNP), in the corridor linking GKNP and Sapo National Park (SNP), in and around SNP and in the Krahn-Bassa Proposed Protected Area (KBPPA).
WCF Liberia is also leading some transboundary initiatives with Côte d’Ivoire and several national initiatives in collaboration with its national and international conservation and development partners.
The person who coordinates all of these activities as Country Director of the organization is Dr. Annika Hillers. She is the proud recipient of the prestigious West Africa Media Network Outstanding Country Director of the year Award for 2019.
Dr. Annika Hillers has a rich history working in the Upper Guinean Forests of West Africa for the past 17 years, conducting biological fieldwork and research in most of the remaining forests and some savannah areas between Senegal and Benin. She initially focused on frogs and over the years expanded her works to other taxonomic groups, especially mammals, as well as protected area management and community-based conservation initiatives.
She is globally known as a renowned specialist for West African biodiversity. She was appointed in April 2017, as the Country Director for the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) in Liberia, working closely with the Liberian Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and other conservation partners with the aim of protecting and sustainably managing Liberia’s forests and their unique biodiversity, while strongly involving local communities – which is fully in line with the Development and Pro-Poor Agenda of the Liberian government.
Dr. Hillers was a part of the setting up of the first REDD+ project in West Africa at the Gola Rainforest National Park in Sierra Leone and has actively contributed to the creation of 3 new national parks in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Currently, the work of her organization includes biomonitoring, law enforcement, awareness-raising, livelihood support, as well as infrastructure development for local communities. Annika is a member of the IUCN pygmy hippo and amphibian specialist groups and is coordinating the Law Enforcement and Biomonitoring Sub-Committees of the Liberia national Species Working Group.
Besides her conservation work, Annika is very much interested in supporting capacity building and education. She has trained numerous African colleagues and students and has been an adjunct lecturer at Njala University in Sierra Leone. She runs a charity project and has been supporting 7 schools in southeastern Sierra Leone since 2006.