MONROVIA – A five-day conference beginning September 2nd 2019, highlighting the status of the Western chimpanzee and the species’ threats, was conducted in Monrovia with a diverse group of stakeholders and supporters.
The program highlighted the urgent need for the protection and conservation of the sub-species throughout Liberia and the region. Liberia’s rich biodiversity has gained well-deserved attention from the local, regional and international conservation community and is considered one of the most critical remaining intact habitats for chimpanzees around the world. Partners such as Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA), the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP), Impact by Design, the International Union for Conservation of Nature – Conservation Planning Specialist Group and many other local and global partners are making great strides in conserving current and future generations of chimpanzees.
Funded by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and JGI USA, the conference defined potential threats to the Western chimpanzee and collectively developed strategies to mitigate these threats and promote chimpanzee protection and conservation, identifying conditions necessary for the implementation of a national conservation action plan, and agreeing on next steps required in finalizing this plan. The program, facilitated using adaptive and innovative conservation planning techniques, included a two-part process during which key stakeholders were engaged and worked collaboratively to determine concrete actions and strategies based on best practices and scientific data.
FDA has very effectively joined forces with local and international partners to ensure that Liberia’s Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Law is understood, strengthened and enforced. Combatting illegal wildlife crime throughout the country and the region is a top priority for FDA and her partners, including this development of a National Chimpanzee Conservation Action Plan. Other key initiatives implemented in collaboration with organizations including LCRP, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, Fauna and Flora International, Conservation International, Society for Conservation for Nature for Liberia and others are also having great impact thanks to the generous support of donors such as the European Union, USAID funded West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change program and the government of the United Kingdom. Currently a man arrested for the illegal possession of an orphaned chimpanzee whose family was killed for the illegal bushmeat trade is serving a three-month jail sentence in Grand Gedeh after being convicted by a Magisterial Court.
In the programs closing remarks, Deputy FDA Managing Director for Operations, Mr. J.J. Tally, reiterated FDA’s commitment to continued cooperation and collaboration with her partners to ensure sustainable management of Liberia’s biodiversity and wildlife including the critically endangered Western chimpanzee. Mr. Tally thanked the Jane Goodall Institute and Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection, whom he referred to as ‘Liberia’s Chimp Champs’ for bringing the workshop to Liberia. He also lauded funders and supporters and congratulated all participants and organizations for their collaboration and dedication to saving chimpanzees in Liberia.