Mr. Patrick Omondi, senior assistant director, Kenya Wildlife Service, has disclosed that the illegal trade in ivory is completely washing off species, especially elephants in Liberia. Mr. Omondi said, through such illegal trade, 19,000 of the country’s 20,000 elephants had been traded since the 1980s. According to him, only 1,000 elephants remained in Liberia.
“Though, Liberia opposes trade in ivory, but, the trade is still being illegally practiced in the country. This trade is having negative impact on your resources, therefore, we all need to join efforts to conserve your wildlife resources,” the Kenya Wildlife director told Liberian forest and other officials recently in Monrovia.
Mr. Omondi made the statement, Thursday, January 20, 2011, at a two-day International conference held at the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) conference room, on Broad Street, Crown Hill, Monrovia.
The conference was aimed at reconstituting Liberia’s Scientific Authority. It also sought to reactivate Liberia’s involvement in the Convention on International Trade Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (animals and plants),(CITES).
The CITES was established to reconstitute scientific authority and strengthen the management authority of the programs in Liberia. Reconstituting scientific authority, Omondi said, is ensuring that a standard is put in place to tackle the challenges that are associated with the conservation of wildlife resources.
He named some of the challenges as climate change, use of local land and space, among others. For his part, Moses Wogbeh, managing director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), disclosed at the conference that the increasing population of the country and economic development were also factors that he said were responsible for ‘undue pressure’ on Liberia’s forest resources
According to Mr. Wogbeh, despite the challenges, Liberia has 4.52 million hectares of tropical rain forest and that 42%, of the forest is situated in the Upper Guinea region.
Wogbeh added that the Country has in its forest, 590 spices of birds, 162 native fish spices and over 2,000 flowering plants including 240 timber spices.
These statistical figures, Worgbeh said, put Liberia in a better position to reactivate the CITES’ convention. According to Mr. Wogbeh, prior to Liberia’s armed conflict, the spanned over a decade, FDA was designated as the management authority, and the University of Liberia(UL) as the scientific authority of the CITES in the country.
Unfortunately, the FDA boss indicated, the 14 year war in the country could not permit the implementation of the scientific authority. “Liberia cannot succeed with biodiversity conservation in isolation,” Wogbeh noted. He added that Liberia was partnering with other CITIES nations in the world in ratifying international convention that would save the environment.
Mr. Wogbeh described the recent Monrovia conference as the “first of it kind” in the country. He noted that it will serve as a tool to implementing the convention in Liberia. Liberia is among 175 countries that ratified the CITES Convention in 1981. Kenya and the USA were instrumental to ensure that countries ratified CITIES’ convention, 1973.