The sore authority for the conservation of wildlife and forestry in Liberia has claimed responsibility without any regret in the cruel killing of an elephant in a South Eastern County of Rivercess, after several weeks of pursuing the animal.
“We wanted it killed, no matter what manner, since it was impossible to have used arms to kill it,” Theo V. Freeman, Technical Manager of the Department of Conservation of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) said he issued an ultimatum to eliminate of the elephant.
He noted that it was an agreement reached between the FDA and the Liberian Three and Trading Company (LTTC) because the elephant was causing economic sabotage to investment and the country.
The death of elephant, which occurred in a dramatic but tragic manner, Freeman said. According to him, workers of the LTTC smash the elephant in between two yellow machines and trucks in a head on collision leading to its death.
The incident took place last Monday, July 12th at 11am, when the elephant as usual went to attack an operator of a yellow machine, while staff of LTTC were constructing a wooding bridge in the concession area.
The CEO/President of LTTC, Mr. Ricks Yeah Toweh, who welcomed the death of the elephant, said once the danger was contained, he has no option to pull out again, if only this will bring about his staff safety to work in peace.
Liberia risks an international sanction such as (suspension and sale of elephant ivory), if it failed to justified the cruel killing of the Rivercess elephant. Liberia holds membership to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It ratified the treaty in 1981 to regulate, protect and preserve wildlife species.
Fauna and Flora International(FFI), a conservation wildlife group based in Liberia, has indicated that the cruel killing of the elephant needed to be justified to conform with the international regulation allowing the killing of an elephant or any wildlife animals for that matter.
“The killers of the elephant, if they failed to justify whether for scientific and other legally acceptable reasons, considering the cruel manner in which it was killed, they must be arrested and face prosecution in line with the rule of law” said the Chief Technical Advisor to FFI, Abedi Lartey.
He said under no circumstances that a country, who signed the conservation treaty, will kill an elephant, noting that that the Ricesscess situation should have been to be assessed closely by authorities before the killing.
But FDA’s Technical Manager Theo V. Freeman denied committing any wrong for executing his order, noting the manner in which the elephant was killed by staff of the LTTC.
He quoted Chapter 9 of the 2006 Forestry Law of Liberia, as saying “when there is a problematic wildlife that causes havoc on life, such animal must be killed.”
“We have not erred, as it concerns life and the safety of Liberians, which couldn’t be compromised so we killed it the way it needed to be killed,” he noted.
Freemen said prior to the killing of the elephant, he wrote to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Joint security of Liberia, but did not say whether he got a permission to do go ahead.
Whether the FDA and concession companies operating in Rivercess have ever considered the inclusion of the human-wildlife conflict plan remains an unanswered question.
However, FFI has predicted the possibility for a possible reprisal by the elephants on the community or the concession by congregate in high numbers to moan their dead, fight back for habitat or their safety.
In the wake of the controversies over ownership of the elephant’s ivory among Rivercess County Legislative caucus, Superintendent Wellington Geevon-Smith and the FDA, the forestry authorities have said that by the forestry law of Liberia, they should be in possession of the elephant’s ivory.
The FDA has said to avoid future occurrence of such situation, government was putting in place several protected areas in various county, including Grand Kru, Sinoe, and Grand Gedeh Counties among others.