20 Former Bushmeat Sellers Certificated In Buchanan -As They Venture Into Other Businesses

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The Wild Chimpanzee Foundation through the Forestry Development Authority has certificated twenty women in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County,  who are former bushmeat sellers.  The Wild Chimpanzee Foundation with support from the UK funding and the European Union has been supporting three hundred Liberian women who were involved in the sales of bushmeat in various counties in Liberia.  However, these bushmeat sellers are  now changing  their trade into other businesses due to massive awareness from the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and other forest partners in the forest sectors. On February 2, 2024, twenty women in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, were certificated for transforming from bushmeat sellers to other businesses through the efforts of the FDA through the WCF Country Director and the British Ambassador in Liberia.  Madam Cecelia J. Weah, a proxy for the Liberia Marketing Association President, Madam Elizabeth Sambolah, in her opening statement, praised, expressed happiness and welcomed the guests and said when the bushmeat program started people overlooked the drive. She glorified God for the international and local partners to empower those women, whom she noted it was difficult for them from the initial stage to leave the bushmeant business, but that now they find it easy by selling their bitter ball, onion, pepper, chicken soup, greens and earning money from those markets than the constraints they were going through during the sales of bushmeat. “Many at times, FDA used to confiscate those bushmeats and burned them in their presence thus causing them huge losses and more debts,” Madam Weah revealed.  For his part, British Ambassador  Neil Bradley, who served as  keynote speaker,  lauded the WCF,  FDA and the women for their willingness to change from the sales  of bushmeat to other businesses.  The Ambassador said Liberia is well known as a biodiversity hotspot, emphasizing that the forests and wildlife are a national treasure that must be protected for future generations; adding, “Because when we destroy nature, we undermine our very foundations.” “Almost 70 percent of the world’s wildlife has been lost in the past half century – a lifetime to many of us but the blink of an eye in the grand sweep evolution, as many of one million species of plants and animals are threatened with extinction,” Ambassador Bradley noted.  The Ambassador indicated that it is a sobering fact that Western Chimpanzees are a critically endangered species as estimates suggest that there are only 35,000 individual left in the wild, of which 7,000 live in Liberia’s forests. Over the past 25 years, Western Chimpanzee populations have declined by over 80%, mostly due to poaching and habitat loss, the Ambassador observed.  “This is why the UK funding of this project and others is helping to sustain the Liberian forests and protect your wildlife. UK is supporting anti-trafficking activities, training of eco-guards and rangers, strengthening law enforcement, raising public awareness and, crucially, providing alternative economic benefits for communities,” Ambassador Bradley indicated.  Accordingly, reducing poverty by creating sustainable alternative livelihoods is one of the most important ways in which to protect Liberia’s biodiversity and end the illegal wildlife trade, the Ambassador emphasized.  Ambassador Bradley acknowledged and commended the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, RSPB, Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary, SCNL, the Forestry Development Authority and the Liberia Marketing Association for their tremendous collaborative efforts and hard work to empower local women to reduce the Illegal Wildlife Trade in Liberia and at the same time thanked Community Volunteers present, noting that the program is a powerful example of how, by working together, “We can protect Liberia’s precious biodiversity and stem the tide of loss.”  During the ceremony, the Manager for Awareness and Ecotourism Division of FDA, Comfort Saku,  said Liberia is a country  that is better for national heritage for forests and animals.  She thanked participants, recalling that the process started as far back in 2018 when the introduction of the European Union project began strengthening local communities and law enforcement of Wildlife and forest crime in Liberia. Madam Saku also appreciated the WCF, SCNL, Libassa Sanctuary, RSPB, and other related forest partners in the forest sectors for their concerted and collaborative efforts in getting the project to its present stage. “The FDA wants to admonish all of its citizens to join in the fight against illegal wildlife trade and help preserve our natural resources which are essentials to our collective well being,” she stressed.  She also called on FDA partners- local and international to continue their generosities in supporting and collaborating to empower more women and communities across the country; adding, “In this program, hunters have been trained to serve as Forest Eco-guards serving as volunteers, some of them go on bio- monitoring program. These are the many ways we go against illegal hunting in Liberia.”

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