Attracting young minds to conservation
On June 23, 2023, The Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL) had the incredible opportunity to hold its 7th Liberia Nature Talk. This environmental, and education programme took place at the Ezekiel H. Guti High School in Barnesville under the theme: “Knowing the status of protected species in Liberia”. The Liberia Nature Talk brings together people with vast experiences in conservation to share with students in high school to know the importance of environmental science and forestry. It is also meant to create awareness among biodiversity conservation students at universities to enhance their learning.
Mr.Johnson G. Koikoi, SCNL Environmental Education Officer, and the lead on programme said the primary objective of the event was to spread conservation messages through the Liberia Nature Talk to inform the students and the schools with extensive experience in conservation, allowing them to share their knowledge with the public and students. “The aim of the programme was to emphasize the importance of environmental management and forestry while raising awareness among students from various universities and high schools about biodiversity conservation,” he said.
The well-attended event was a success, and brought together passionate conservationists and excited students from different conservation organizations and high schools in Montserrado, and provided them with the opportunity to ask questions and understand the importance of biodiversity conservation and how they can serve as ambassadors in spreading the message about protecting the environment.
It was remarkable, with two exceptional speakers who captivated the audience with their insightful presentations. Mr. Abednego Gbarway, the Wildlife Manager, Forestry Development Authority, (FDA), shared valuable information regarding the current status of protected species in Liberia. His expertise shed light on the challenges and opportunities faced in conserving these precious creatures. He said the FDA was established in 1976 and the National Forestry Reform Law was established in 2006.
Dr. Susan Wiper, Director, Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary, provided an insightful overview of the remarkable successes and challenges faced by the Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary (LiWiSa). Dr. Wiper went on to highlight the sanctuary’s dedication to the care, rehabilitation, and release of animals confiscated from the bush meat and pet trade in Liberia. She further emphasized the sanctuary’s commitment to educating and raising awareness about the laws protecting wildlife in Liberia while also promoting the crucial need for wildlife to remain wild. She said Libassa Wildlife is the only sanctuary in Liberia and neighboring countries. It has 70 species of animals and was officially opened on May 6, 2017.
Earlier on, the welcome remark was done by the Vice Principal for Instruction, Mr. Moses N. Moniba, Ezekiel H. Guti High School. In his remark, he expressed happiness for the school to have been chosen to be the host for such an educative program which will broaden the minds of many people on the importance of conservation. In his opening remarks, Mr. Koikoi gave an overview of the Liberia Nature Talk and its purpose.
The Liberia Nature Talk Program is a quarterly Biodiversity Conservation awareness platform sponsored by the Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL). This program encourages the participation of primary, and secondary schools as we as the general public ensure knowledge is passed on to all for the sustainable and effectively used of biodiversity and wisely used of natural resources that will enable the future generation to have access to biodiversity. There were 78 participants, 47 females and male 31 pulling in from six schools (First Apostolic Foundation High School, Sister Shirley Kolmer Memorial Catholic School, G. Edwin Bryant Academy, WAT Daycare, Canterbury Episcopal High School, and Ezekiel H. Guti High School) in Bardnersville, Liberia as well as partners from Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary, Liberia Geographical Society and the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).
The students like everyone who attended the 7th Edition of the Liberia Nature Talk through their Lead Teachers/Administers did salute SCNL for the programme which is captivating to students who are future biodiversity conservationists and environmentalists with promises to always be a part of the platform. Several students and the general audience asked questions regarding the importance of the protected animals in Liberia and what are some livelihood alternatives that can balance and discourage humans from eating/killing these animals? What is the plan of the Government of Liberia to protect wildlife habitats (forests) that humans are cutting down for living and other usages? How does Libassa manage to save some of these animals without harming them? These questions were addressed by the speakers appropriately.
5th grader Larine K. Toure from Shirley Kolmer School and others promised to educate students, and their communities about conservation. “If our parents stop buying them, those hunting them will stop hunting them. So, I will tell everyone not to kill wild animals,” student Toure promised. At the close of the programme, the school administration thanked SCNL for the establishment of the School Nature Club and promised to always work with SCNL for the betterment of the future and the future of the children. SCNL Boahen Gorden Sambola, in his vote of thanks, appreciated the speakers, students, and their participation, and promised SCNL’s commitment to keep working with schools for the expansion of the School Nature Club.