Forest rangers tortured and killed by illegal settlers in Liberia rainforest

Two forest patrollers have been killed and four hospitalised in what is believed to be retaliatory action from illegal settlers in Sapo National Park

 A man walks past a rack of bushmeat that includes the increasingly rare pangolin, now on the point of extinction.
A man walks past a rack of bushmeat that includes the increasingly rare pangolin, now on the point of extinction. Photograph: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Two forest rangers have been killed by a violent mob in a Liberian rainforest after discovering a community illegally settling and hunting in the park, according to authorities.

“They ambushed them using single-barrel shot guns,” Darlington Tuagben, managing director of Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority told the Liberian Observer. One of the rangers died at the scene, while the other died in hospital a day after the attack. The ranger “was beaten and tortured to death”, said Tuagben. Four other rangers were hospitalised.

“This kind of behaviour is no longer in any civilised world including Liberia. It is barbaric and unacceptable,” said Tuagben.

The attack took place just one month after a ranger was tortured by other illegal settlers in the forest.

Sapo National Park is home to a variety of endangered species, including elephants, pangolins, pygmy hippos and western chimpanzees. It is one of west Africa’s most intact forest ecosystems.

The park was pillaged by poachers, loggers and miners during the Liberian civil war from 1990 to 2003, and the government and the United Nations have since implemented major resettlement programmes and PR campaigns to raise support for conservation. Farming, logging, construction, hunting, and human settlement have been illegal since 2003.

Despite conservation efforts by the government and NGOs, illicit activities inside the park have soared in the last decade. More than 1,000 people occupy Sapo illegally, according to Tuagben, who told the Liberian Observer that people remain hostile to park authorities and those trying to protect it. He said he has requested that the police deploy armed men to work alongside forest rangers.

If you would like to contact us with a story about elephant conservation and wildlife rangers, please email elephant.conservation@theguardian.com.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Forest rangers tortured and killed by illegal settlers in Liberia rainforest

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s