Liberia today joins the global village in observance of the international Elephants Day.
The celebrations, first of its kind in Liberia is jointly organized by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and the lead partner, Elephant Research and Conservation (ELRECO) with the distributions of promotional awareness materials as well as flyers and posters, the hosting of radio talk show on the education and importance of the Day, among others.
ELRECO for short is a German Non-Governmental Organization that is especially dedicated to the conservation of forest elephants in Liberia and neighboring Countries.
The global celebration is among other things geared towards bringing the world together to know the threats and importance of protecting forest elephants.
Dr. Vogt used the occasion to call on all Liberians and residents alike to sign unto a petition pledging their respective support to the survival and protection of elephants nationwide and on the continent of Africa at large.
Speaking to our reporter Monday the technical director of the Elephant Research and Conservation Dr. Tina Vogt stressed the need to protect forest elephants for the benefit of the Country.
Dr. Vogt she and her colleague, Bernhard Forster begin work in Liberia in 2010 on supporting initiatives of forest conservation but later on saw the crucial need to engage into meaningful activities to help elephants conservation which she noted is very key to the sector.
Currently she told our reporter that there is nationwide survey ongoing in North-Western forest bloc of Liberia to update Country on where elephants are including the number of elephants, something Dr. Vogt noted when completed will help relevant stakeholders in making an informed decision in the sector.
She at the same time called for more awareness on the protection of elephants nationwide.
Dr. Vogt who named some of the benefits of elephants as: oil fertilization, core animal protection and prevention, the clearing of roads for other animal passage including the creation of water for other purposes and many others.
She however pointed out some of the threats to include: Inhabitant destruction and fragmentation, population growth, illegal killing and hunting of elephants and many more something she added are still big challenges that they are working on to address gradually.
Additionally, she indicated that they are also developing method to help in mitigating conflicts as well under their respective 10-year plan.
The ELRECO technical boss discouraged Liberians from engaging into wildlife crimes.
She encouraged local residents to always channel their issues through the FDA in a drive to help solve it.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of Elephants Research and Conservation Bernhard Forster said they are working in about eight communities to effectively create the necessary awareness aimed at mitigate the problems.
He wants Liberia through its people to play a very important role in the survival of forest elephants.
Bernhard said they are working -and are equally concerned about co-existence than conflict in addressing the issues affecting the growth process of the sector.
He then praised the FDA for its impressive and collaborative working relationship with ELRECO something he termed as been very impressive.
He pledged his entity’s commitment to abide by all necessary regulations as well as the laws of Liberia in promoting the sector.
The ELRECO CEO said he is confident that upon the completion of their ongoing surveys he hopes of positive outcomes that will help mitigate some of the challenges facing the sector.
He said as part of their ten years National Elephants Action Plan (NEAP) they will endeavor to implement a comprehensive capacity-building program including to ensure and identified elephants populations are protected as well as asses current status and distribution of elephants through a national baseline survey.
At the same time the Wildlife manager of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) Abednego Gbarway commended rural community dwellers for working with the FDA to ensure the protection of the forest.
Mr. Gbarway said as a result of the community’s involvement they are able to under the law have 30% forest protected areas in Liberia.
He named as: The Sapo National Park, Grebo-Krahn National Park, Nimba Reserve, Gola Forest, Lake Piso and the reserved Wologi .
The Wildlife manager of FDA said elephants are vulnerable but was also quick to add that it is equally and totally forbidden under the Laws of Liberia to kill it.
Hunting, vegetation-clearing and mining among others is threats to the wildlife something he noted should be discouraged mainly among the rural inhabitants.
As of 2009 he said a survey show that Liberia at the time had about 124 elephants but such number he feared could be reduced due to current populations and other attributing human factors, the FDA official noted.
In Africa there are two types of elephants namely: Savannah Elephant and Forest Elephant respectively.
For Liberia, Forest elephant is most common and it is as well by law protected meaning no one under the law should hunt, kill, eat, capture, possess or sell and elephant or any elephant body parts something that is up till press time a serious challenged.
It can be recall that wildlife conservation in Liberia began in the 1980’s and since then on the one hand made considerable to include the adaptation of the wildlife conservation law, designation of protected areas as well as endorsement of the national species action plan and many others.
The World Elephant Day is an international event annual celebrated August 12, dedicated to the preservation and protection of the world’s elephants.
It was established on August 12, 2012 by the Canadian filmmaker Patricia Sims and the elephant reintroduction foundation of Thailand.
The goal of the international elephant day is to create awareness of the urgent plight of African and Asian elephants and to share knowledge and positive solutions for the better care and management of captive and wild elephants.