The Management of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and the Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection (LCRP) have agreed, through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), to work collaboratively with the aim of rescuing and protecting chimpanzee population living in the country's wild, an FDA release said.
The MOU, according to a release, is in the wisdom of both parties and uniquely recognizes the rights and protection of chimpanzees and other animals that are protected by the wildlife laws of Liberia.
The five-year MOU, signed on Tuesday, September 3, by FDA Managing Director C. Mike Doyen and LCRP Executive Director Mrs. Jenny Desmond, obligates the FDA to collaborate with the LCRP as a reliable and longtime caretaker of confiscated, injured and/or orphaned chimpanzees.
The LCRP will shoulder the responsibility to develop a comprehensive plan for chimpanzee conservation, including captive chimpanzee population.
Additionally, the LCRP will provide training to select FDA staffs on law enforcement, specifically on wildlife trade and trafficking, wildlife medicine, one health approach to conservation, diagnostics and laboratory skills, animal welfare and captive care.
The FDA, according to the MOU, will build relations - where necessary - among government agencies, local communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders as it relates to the practical enhancement of the terms of the MOU. LCRP is a locally-based NGO collaborating with local and international partners in caring for current chimpanzee residents, while developing long term strategies to combat the illegal trade and conservation of chimpanzees and other protected wildlife.
LCRP is Liberia's first and only chimpanzee sanctuary, sanctioned by the FDA and working in partnership with the government, to ensure the future of wild populations.
Currently, LCRP is caring for more than 25 chimpanzees, most of them under five years old and, given the chance at a healthy life, may live up to 60 years. Almost all of the chimps in the care of LCRP are orphans whose mothers and other family members were killed to be eaten, while the young chimps were being kept alive to be sold into local and international pet trade.
Each month, more captive chimpanzees are confiscated, allowing for the enforcement of Liberia's wildlife laws. LCRP's U.S. affiliate (501c3) is Partner in Animal Protection and Conservation. Essentially, captive chimpanzees are rescued and rehabilitated by LCRP, while its collaborative partnership propels Liberia's chimpanzee protection, education, and conservation initiatives forward.
Believing that all wildlife and animal welfare issues are interconnected, LCRP supports broad-based public awareness campaigns. Without the ability to confiscate wildlife, authorities cannot protect and preserve this critically endangered species.
When orphaned chimps arrive at LCRP's sanctuary, they are often traumatized and depressed. Just like humans who have experienced great loss and grief; some rescued chimpanzees rebound quite quickly, while others take many months to brave the simplest of things.
Every bit of progress is considered a milestone. Located in a chimpanzee range state, LCRP plays a key role in working with wildlife authorities, to drive initiatives and leverage support to protect and conserve wild individuals and populations.
"Our work directly impacts the capacity of wildlife organizations to develop and implement conservation programs and encourage community involvement," says the LCRP authority.