Paynesville – A dramatic scene unfolded at the Omega Magisterial Court yesterday when a 23-year-old woman faced charges of illegal possession of wildlife species and cruelty to an animal (Monkey). She was subsequently sentenced to prison.
By Victoria G. Wesseh
The defendant, Hannah Klay, was found in possession of a monkey without license, according to the prosecution.
Magistrate Victoria Duncan ruled that Hannah Klay should remain detained to attend her trial after noticing that she did not have legal representation, as required by the 1986 Constitution.
On November 6, 2023, a joint wildlife security team, consisting of the Liberia Special Wildlife Investigation Unit (SWIU), with support from the Liberia National Police (LNP), the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), and Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary (LWS), arrested Madam Hannah Klay in Soko Town, Pipeline Community, Paynesville, Montserrado County.
Hannah Klay, a resident of Pipeline Community, was allegedly found in possession of a young Lesser Spotted Nosed Monkey tied to a chair. The monkey was later rescued by the joint team.
The Liberia Special Wildlife Investigation Unit collaborates with various partners, including the LNP, FDA, LWS, Focused Conservation, and LRA Customs, to bring those responsible for wildlife trafficking to justice.
The SWIU stresses that hunting, buying, selling, capturing, or consuming protected species is a punishable offense.
“The Special Wildlife Investigation Unit comprises officers from LNP, FDA, and LRA, working with other relevant authorities in Liberia,” the joint team stated.
This arrest marks a significant step in ongoing efforts to combat wildlife crimes, according to the SWIU. They emphasized that anyone involved in the hunting, buying, selling, capturing, keeping as a pet, or consuming of protected species will face prosecution.
“The Special Wildlife Investigation Unit works closely with other mandated authorities within Liberia,” the statement added.
The arrest is part of a series of wildlife trafficking arrests and seizures conducted by the SWIU, including the recent apprehension of two individuals for trafficking 369 kilograms of pangolin scales.