PAYNESVILLE – The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and its collaborating partners are expected to hold a one-day meeting on Wednesday in Monrovia to create awareness about the regional action plan for the conservation of western chimpanzees for the period 2020 to 2030.
The plan aims to improve the protection of the critically endangered western chimpanzees, which remain Liberia’s flagship species and are one of four sub-species of the chimpanzees that only occur in eight countries in West Africa, with Liberia hosting the largest forest-dwelling population. Since 2016, western chimpanzees are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which is the last step before extinction, which means this species would soon disappear from the wild without any targeted protection measures.
A release from the FDA says the one-day event is expected to be graced by government institutions, concessionaires, diplomatic representatives, donors, conservation partners, academic institutions, as well as the broader public for the future effective implementation of the action plan, which requires strong inter-sectorial collaboration.
The release also quotes FDA as assuring the public that given the importance of the event, senior government officials, foreign diplomats, amongst others will attend the occasion. Given the high relevance of primates, in particular chimpanzees, for the development of the ecotourism sector, various tourism actors, such as the Ministry for Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) and the Liberia National Tourism Association (LINTA) will be part of the meeting.
FDA hereby underscores the significance of the event given that the habitat of western chimpanzees and other endangered species are gradually being destroyed, while poaching for bushmeat and the pet trade continue to deplete Liberia’s wildlife populations.
“There is a need to work together closely to design strategies the best way possible in carving the way forward to save the remaining chimpanzees population from total destruction and to ensure the effective implementation of Liberian and international laws, that are protecting the western chimpanzee and other wildlife in Liberia,” the release quotes the FDA as saying.
The National Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management law and the Environmental Crime Section of the Penal Law are key elements for the legal framework to protect wildlife species and their habitat in Liberia, as well as international treaties to which Liberia is a signatory, such as the Convention on Biological Biodiversity (CBD) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
It can be recalled that the Regional Western Chimpanzee Action Plan was developed in Liberia by all concerned stakeholders and other West African countries in December 2017 and officially published by the Primate Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), to allow chimpanzees range countries adopt and implement the action plan in the quest of providing needed urgently needed protection for chimpanzees in the region.
Today’s event is being supported and sponsored by the Primate Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN, re: wild, the Arcus Foundation, the West African Biodiversity and Low Emissions Development (WABiLED)/USAID, the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, and Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection.
The meeting will be climaxed by the signing of a “Pledge to support the implementation of the Regional action plan for the conservation of western chimpanzees” to ensure long-term commitment and effective collaboration of all stakeholders involved.