Recipients of Safari Liberia’s first Goat Rearing PAY IT FORWARD Project in Gbarpolu County. The project is part of a community development effort to curb poaching.
By Barbara Crown, Editor-in-Chief, with contribution from Assistant Editor Justin Jones
At the Dallas Safari Club (DSC) convention last month, Morris Dougba of Liberia Safari (previously called Liberia Rainforest Safari; email@example.com
) visited our booth with Edward G. Gbeintor, manager of the Wildlife Management Department with the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) of Liberia. Dougba and Gbeintor told us that Liberia
is serious about moving to sustainable use of its vast natural resources and building tourism around that. Liberia has the second-largest rainforest in West Africa after Congo. Gbeintor says that the government wants to move Liberia away from timber operations, and it plans to convert large portions of the country's rainforest into national parks and to develop community hunting areas.
According to Gbeintor, Norway has provided Liberia with $150 million through the World Bank over a five-year period to preserve the Upper Guinea rainforest. The plan is to create 11 national parks. Four have already been gazetted, but Gbeintor says Liberia lacks the funds, the manpower and the knowledge to develop and operate programs in all of these areas that would protect the habitat and wildlife while attracting the tourism to pay for it. They need partners with the ability to create programs to operate the areas on a profit-sharing basis. The national parks would be nonconsumptive areas, whereas the community areas would be available for regulated hunting programs operated by safari operators. Gbeintor and Dougba approached Editor-in-Chief Barbara Crown for help in making some contacts. She immediately put them together with John J. Jackson, III of Conservation Force (www.conservationforce.org
) and Marty Markl of Dallas Safari Club and International Wildlife Crimestoppers (IWC; wildlifecrimestoppers.org
Jackson already has some experience with Liberia, having helped a number of US hunters with trophies from that country that were blocked or seized by US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) when hunting first reopened there. He sat down with Gbeintor and Dougba to discuss their needs and how Conservation Force could assist. "Conservation Force offered to assist the CITES authorities if they had technical issues to reduce the errors and seizures of trophies in the US," says Jackson. "They eagerly accepted. In short, trophy shipments have been plagued by paperwork errors that FWS treats as substantive violations of CITES, hence violations of the ESA that implements CITES in the US."
The other problem Liberia suffers from is poaching fueled by the bushmeat market. Along with community development programs, serious antipoaching programs are needed to stop the unregulated and unsustainable harvest of duikers and other game in Liberia. That's where IWC came in. Gbeintor came to the DSC convention with a proposal in hand for necessary equipment, supplies and training for forest rangers and antipoaching patrols. IWC took a look at his proposal and offered assistance....