Wildlife Reporters Honor Libassa Sanctuary Director

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Sanctuary Director at the Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary, Julie Vanassche, displays her certificate of honor given by the Wildlife and Conservation Reporters Network of Liberia

By Alfred Kollie, [email protected]

The Sanctuary Director at the Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary, Julie Vanassche, is encouraging Liberians to protect its animals or wildlife for the benefit of the country and its people.

According to Ms. Vanassche, protecting animals in Liberia, especially those that are protected under the laws, will help boost and add value to Liberia’s tourism sector and attract investors for economic growth.

The Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary Director indicated that Liberia has great ecotourism potential and calls on the government to protect and promote its wildlife and natural resources.

She spoke on Saturday, October 10, when she was honored and certificated by the Wildlife and Conservation Reporters Network of Liberia as the outstanding Liberia Sanctuary Director of the year 2020 for her contribution and support to Liberia’s tourism sector.

Madam Vanassche thanked the Forestry Development Authority for enforcing the law that protects wildlife in Liberia and urged citizens across the country to stop killing animals and destroying the wildlife. “Killing of protected animals may undermine the fight against the protection of wildlife across Liberia” she disclosed.

The Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 2017 to rescue wild animals that were being sold in Monrovia. With support from the European Union, the sanctuary team collaborated with the confiscation unit of the Forestry Development Authority and rescued the animals.

Since 2017, Ms. Vanassche disclosed that the Sanctuary has rescued a total of 461 animals, 221 of which were later released into the wild. These include 52 Crocodiles. Some, she said, died due to poor health.

“There are 69 Monkeys in the sanctuary and all Monkeys are protected by laws in Liberia,” she disclosed, adding that, “It will take two years to release the monkeys into the wild and, if we succeed, we will be the first sanctuary to release Monkeys into the wild in Liberia.”

She said the sanctuary is a charity institution that depends on donors and people of goodwill. The sanctuary has a Wildlife Clinic and laboratory that caters to the animals when they are sick. She called on both local and International organizations to help support the Sanctuary financially, noting that the institution spent US$1,600 monthly to feed the animals.

Monkeys in the Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary, where they are being prepared for their release back into the wild.

“At the sanctuary, we currently have several of them that are ready for return home into the wild. Most of them were tiny babies upon arrival but, due to our care, support and treatment, they are ready for release now that they have reached adulthood,” she said.

“At the moment, the sanctuary is home of all the animals including monkeys. Our main goal is to give these animals a second chance in life and return them to the forest.”

According to her, most of the animals’ mothers or parents were killed by illegal hunters who took the babies with them for commercial purposes.

Most of these animals end up living miserable lives on a short rope or chain in private homes without getting the rightful nutrition and deprived of the physical contact that they need. The Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary is the largest Sanctuary that hosts the most wildlife species in the country.

In remarks, the National Coordinator of the Wildlife and Conservation Reporters Network of Liberia, Joseph S. Wiah, said the honor bestowed on Julie Vanassche is based on the work the Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary Director is doing in Liberia.

According to him, his group has been following and will continue to follow the work of those in the sector for the betterment of the country. Wildlife and Conservation Reporters Network of Liberia comprises both broadcast and print journalists who cover issues of wildlife and conservation in Liberia.

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