YES Inspires Citizens to Protect Endangered Species

In commemoration of this year’s Earth Day in Liberia, the Youth Exploring Solutions (YES), an accredited non-for-profit, passionate, and voluntary grassroots youth-led development organization conducted a crowd-sourcing and solutions-driven discussion on innovative ways and voluntary grassroots approaches to protecting the environment and endangered species.The participants also engaged in an cleaning-up exercise of a stretch alongside Lake Piso and planted coconut trees on three (3) secondary school campuses, and around Robertsport City Hall area to create green spaces that would provide clean air, food, habitat for wildlife including the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

More than 170 attendees participated in the event, which took place at the Robertsport City Hall, Grand Cape Mount County under the theme: “Protecting Our Species”.

Delivering the keynote address, Jenna Lee, U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, expressed delight to participate in the program and outlined some of the economic reasons for protecting endangered species in Robertsport. She also pointed out that in an endeavor to ensure the continuation of fishing, it was important to not only keep the beaches and ocean clean, but also practice sustainable fishing.

Jenna proffered that in nature, every plant, every animal, and everything has a job to do—a role to play in order to keep the world working as it should. She stated that when one plant or animal goes missing, it brings trouble to the whole system. Consequently, the U.S. Peace Corps volunteer stressed the need to work to protect each animal and plant species.

Wild Chimpanzee Foundation’s country director Dr. Annika Hillers spoke on the topic: “How to Protect Endangered Species?” Dr. Hillers disclosed there are 98,512 species assessed globally that are threatened by extinction which includes: 40 percent of Amphibians, 25 percent of Mammals, 14 percent of Birds.

The country director of Wild Chimpanzee Foundation indicated that the West Africa Chimpanzee, Slender-snouted crocodile, Hooded vulture, and Nimba Toad are among the most critically endangered species in Liberia. She revealed Western Red Colobus, Pygmy hippopotamus, Jentink’s Duiker, Ziama Horseshoe Bat, Gola Malimbe, and Timneh Grey Parrot as endangered species.

Dr. Hillers divulged that Forest Elephant, Diana Monkey, White-breasted Guineafowl, Leopard, and all three species of pangolins which comprise of White-bellied pangolin, Black-bellied pangolin, and Gaint pangolin are among the vulnerable species in Liberia.

She attributed the growing human population including habitat destruction as a result of logging, mining, agriculture, and other human activities, as well as habitat degradation and pollution, the illegal hunting for bushmeat, illegal trophy hunting, illegal pet trade and climate change as some of the leading threats to endangering many species.

The Wild Chimpanzee Foundation’s executive urged Liberians to advocate for the creation of more protection areas, enforcement of national and international laws, engage in more awareness and education, actively involve local communities in the management of natural resources, and provide alternatives to bushmeat and support for livelihood projects coupled with the promoting of ecotourism and research activities.

Speaking on how to tackle plastic pollution and save endangered species, the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA), manager for Inter-sectoral Coordination, Frances Browne Seydou, lamented that tens of thousands of animals are killed every year from plastic litters as they often mistake plastic bags for food.

“Plastic bags once ingested, cannot be digested or passed by an animal, so it stays in the gut. Plastic in the animal’s gut can prevent food digestion and can lead to a very slow and painful death”, Mrs. Browne Seydou stated.

The manager of Inter-sectoral Coordination is calling on all segments of the Liberian population to reduce, reuse, recycle and educate people about the danger of plastic pollution in the waterways, oceans, and territorial environment.

The coordinator of Climate Change Enabling Activities at EPA, Benjamin S. Karmorh, told the gathering that global warming is causing many animals to be displaced from their original habitat. He admonished the attendees not to farm and build in the pathway of animals because according to him, Climate Change has impacted the movement of animals the world over, especially migratory birds.

Karmorh encouraged the citizens of Robertsport to establish small cooperative to protect endangered species and save the environment while promoting ecotourism which would serve as a source of revenue generation.

Augustine Fayiah, the project officer of the Environmental Justice Foundation, who spoke on the topic: “Why Protect Sharks and Other Marine Organisms”, explained that sharks play an important role in the ecosystem by maintaining the species below them in the food chain and serving as an indicator for ocean health.

“Sharks are also influencing the economy through ecotourism. In the Bahamas, a single live reef shark is worth $250,000.00 as a result of dive tourism versus a one tie value of $50.00 when caught by a fisherman. One whale shark in Belize, an island nation in central American, can bring in $2 million over its lifetime”, the project officer of the Environmental Justice Foundation narrated.

Fayiah continues: “The loss of sharks has led to the decline in coral reefs, seagrass beds and the loss of commercial fisheries and job loss. Without sharks, it’s like being without an immune system. Sharks are vital to keeping the largest ecosystem in the world healthy”.

Delivering on the topic: “Why Youth Must Protect Nature?”, Michael F. Garbo, the executive director of the Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL) emphasized that the world is now experiencing an unprecedented loss of nature, its species, habitats, and ecosystems.

The executive director of Liberia’s oldest conservation organization bewailed that many plants and animals have now gone forever with many more on the edge of extinction. He said if no action is taken, we will lose nature including the very earth upon which we live.

SCNL boss stressed the need to take prompt and appropriate actions to save our own lives or be victims of our actions that lead to the loss of nature.

Meanwhile, the participants have agreed to organize Nature Clubs in their schools and communities to create more awareness on the danger of plastic pollution on endangered species, the importance of sharks in the oceans, and conservation of wildlife and its associated economic benefits.

Since the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, millions of people the world over have engaged the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate and undertake actions for a healthier, safer and cleaner planet Earth. Thousands of people have organized protests against the deterioration of the environment and its ecosystem. Environmental related organizations have come together in various networks, alliances, partnerships, foundations and networks to combat pollution, climate change, plastic waste, extinction of wildlife, desertification, overfishing, and other critical issues affecting the Earth.

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