Monrovia – The Salala Magisterial Court in Maimu Bong County, on September 11, remanded a 26-year-old man, identified as Richard Tate, to the Gbarnga Central Prison to await trial for alleged trafficking and advertising young crocodiles for sale.
By Victoria G. Wesseh
Magistrate Maxwell G. Karsor made this decision after the accused, Tate, failed to be represented by a lawyer as prescribed by the 1986 Constitution.
On September 9, 2023, a joint wildlife security team, comprising the Liberia Special Wildlife Investigation Unit (SWIU), supported by the Liberian National Police, the Forestry Development Authority, Wildlife Crime Task Force, and the Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary, arrested Richard Tate in the Maimu village, Bong County.
Defendant Richard Tate, a resident of Police Academy Paynesville community, is alleged to have been responsible for trafficking young crocodiles and advertising them for sale on an international scale.
Tate was also arrested in possession of five (5) young dwarf crocodiles, which were later rescued by the joint security. Dwarf crocodiles are an internationally endangered species.
The Liberia Special Wildlife Investigation Unit collaborates with partners, including the Liberian National Police, Forestry Development Authority, Wildlife Crime Taskforce, Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection, Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary, and others, to bring those responsible for wildlife trafficking to justice.
The SWIU alleges that the hunting, buying, selling, capturing, keeping as a pet, or eating of protected species is an offense for which those responsible will be prosecuted.
The Special Wildlife Investigation Unit, comprised of officers from LNP, FDA, and LRA, works with other mandated authorities within Liberia.
The joint team of the Special Wildlife Investigation Unit also indicated that this arrest is a significant step forward in the ongoing efforts to combat wildlife trafficking, citing recent convictions of two individuals for trafficking 369 kilos of pangolin scales.