By Lincoln G. Peters
After being accused recently of allegedly obstructing the Forestry Development Authority (FDA’s) enforcement of wildlife protection, Gbarpolu County Senator Botoe Kanneh says she is interested in the wellbeing of hunters and meat sellers, urging FDA to revisit the law to create provision for the rehabilitation and empowerment of the people.
Madam Kanneh who was engaged in years of dried meat selling before being elected Senator in December 2020, told our reporter via mobile phone over the weekend that she was elected to advocate for hunters and meat sellers.
“I am interested in the wellbeing of my people. They sent me to represent them and I will do my best. To just stop them from doing what they know to make a living without providing an alternative is hurting them,” said Sen. Kanneh.
“Hunting and selling dried bushmeat is not a career. Rehabilitate and empower them, make them know who they are,” she continued.
It was reported recently that Sen. Kanneh allegedly stalled the enforcement of the law when FDA’s confiscation unit booked a fellow with several bags of dried bushmeat at the VOA Junction in Brewerville, Montserrado County, and tried to exercise the wildlife protection law against the person.
On October 5, 2016, an Act adopting the National Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Law of Liberia was approved with a mandate to be enforced by Forest Rangers and other security sectors across the Republic of Liberia.
But in the phone interview with our reporter, Madam Kanneh, a former meat seller, argued that despite the law, hunting and selling of dried bushmeat have been the livelihood of many families in several parts of the country.
The Senator quoted the young man whose meat was confiscated by FDA as saying FDA’s Rangers allegedly transported a portion of the confiscated dried bush meat in different locations, leaving her to question the rangers’ intent.
She called on the FDA and partners to do the needful to provide alternative livelihood for hunters and bush meat sellers.
But Shelton Gonkerwon, the head of Communications at the Forestry Development Authority said Madam Kanneh is supposed to be at the front to make laws that will protect wildlife and not to use her position to support the destruction of wildlife.
He added that the FDA has a term of reference by law to protect the forest and its constituents.
“If you destroy all the wildlife, does that take you from poverty to prosperity? No. Madam Kanneh herself is not providing any means of improving the livelihood of hunters and meat sellers. Does she see the implications for future generations?” Mr. Gonkerwon asked rhetorically.
Mr. Gonkerwon expounded that in Gbarpolu County, some fellows were recently taken to Court for said violation and were fined US$250 to be paid in government revenue.
According to him, Gbarpolu is in defiance and Senator Kanneh is now allegedly using her state power to invade the law, accusing her of making FDA’s work difficult.
He furthered that Madam Kanneh has been advocating for meat sellers and now that she is a Senator, she is fulfilling one of her campaign promises.
“We have arrested dried meat several times and one or two times she came to advocate and we burned the meat in her presence. We have two options when we confiscate meat we burn or send it to police to auction,”https://thenewdawnliberia.com/fda-accuses-senator-botoe-kanneh/—Edited by Winston W. Parley