Editor’s note: This article is being republish because it was initially published unedited
Villagers in Jageloken, Barrobo District, Maryland County in Southeastern Liberia are upset by recent invasion of their area by herd of elephants, destroying crops and ransacking homes.
Maryland County Superintendent, Madam Betsy Kuoh, blames the incident on locals felling trees in the forest with power saw to prepare timber, and sound from the machine is scaring elephants and driving them into towns and villages.
Superintendent Kuoh told UNMIL Radio’s “Coffee Break” morning magazine Tuesday, 10 November that about two weeks ago, the elephants invaded Jageloken and destroyed life-crops.
She also suspected somebody might have been chasing the creatures, which forced them into town, particularly citing locals using power saw not only to fell trees, but saw planks.
Liberian authorities have placed a moratorium on bush hunting or wildlife for conservation purposes and as a precautionary measure against the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.
“We are talking about doing away with the hunting; the animals too have lives to live. So you got lot of elephants now all over. Sometimes you are walking or driving, you see a big animal crosses the road,” the superintendent added.
She said villagers are being warned to stop going into the forest and disturbing the animals because they too have lives to live like human beings. Madam Kuoh said the main problem is despite the restriction on bush hunting and other activities, people still go in the forest because that’s their way of life by sawing planks and selling them to earn a living.
“So when you leave, they will go there to do it,” she narrated, saying “If they got something to do, if you got job – everybody knows the economic situation in Maryland is too low so people just doing their own thing, sawing, burning coal.”
The superintendent said though the government, NGOs and private institutions are hiring people, but even where one person is employed, about hundred unemployed persons depend on that particular salary.
Maryland is not the only Liberian county to have experienced elephant invasion. Lofa County in the north, and other areas here had had encounters with animals from the forest invading farms and towns.
By Winston W. Parley -Edited by Jonathan Browne