Home Economy Unimaginable Happenings …At Sapo Park; As Cup of Rice Costs L$200; Prices of Other Commodities Hit Upper Limit

Unimaginable Happenings …At Sapo Park; As Cup of Rice Costs L$200; Prices of Other Commodities Hit Upper Limit

by newsmanager

By: Frank P. Martin

JALAY, SINOE COUNTY: Latest accounts from Sinoe County, Southeastern Region, indicates that several ‘unimaginable things’ are currently unfolding in the Sapo National Park, which is Liberia’s largest protected area of rain forest.

The unconceivable happenings range from widespread illegal mining activities to sexual exploitation and abuse, human trafficking, illicit drugs smuggling, deliberate and blatant desecration of laws and orders, among other vices.

Hundreds of individuals identified as poachers, and believed to be nationals of several West African states including Ivorians, Ghanaians, Burkinabes, Serra Leoneans, among others, with the support of some Liberian citizens, are involved in such exploitation of the park.

The Sapo National Park is located in Sinoe County, Southeastern Liberia, and in the Upper Guinean forest ecosystem, a biodiversity hotspot that has “the highest mammal species diversity of any region in the world”, according to Conservation International, and in the Western Guinean lowland forests ecoregions, according to the World-Wide Fund for Nature’s ecoregions classification scheme.
In 1976, Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA) was established to manage and preserve the country’s forest resources, but effective preservation of the Sapo National Park seems to be a huge challenge facing succeeding Liberian administrations as illegal mining and other unlawful activities within it are on the increase daily.

Our reporter who recently visited the park quoted residents of the area as saying they would resist any attempt to remove them (Poachers) from the Sapo National Park.

One resident, who identified himself as ‘John Rambo’ told our reporter: “For over five to eight years, I have been here and my children were born here. Why, at this time, they want us to leave?”

“But, let me inform you that we are prepared to resist any force that will attempt to remove us from here by force,” Rambo vowed.

“We have three major cities in this forest and if you want to hear those cities’ names, I will call them for you; We have Iraq where over seven hundred men and women are living; We have Afghanistan, the biggest and populated city in this forest; And we also have America, where you can see all what we are doing in this forest,” Rambo further explain.

He rhetorically asked our reporter: “So, with these establishments, do you think if you were the one they asked to leave, will you like to be removed?”

Other residents who prefer anonymity for security reasons hinted our reporter that foreign nationals who are considered buyers and brokers are the forces that fully control the park and the unlawful extraction of natural wealth, and at the acquiesces of some Liberians.

“They come with drags and money in exchange for minerals and those people who working in the field only want something to satisfy their desires, while others there are working for money,” narrated a market woman, name withheld.

“For money, it is here: imagine one cup of rice costs L$150; Sometimes a cup of rice is sold for L$200. The least price for a cup of Farina or gari is L$100,” our reporter observed.

According to the reporter, residents of the Park buy rice, farina, and other basic commodities with very high prices but they are not complaining about any economic hardship in the Park and its immediate environs.

Other residents disclosed that ‘women of easy virtues,’ otherwise referred to locally as prostitutes earned from L$7,000 to L$9000 per day for ‘Jurbu’ which means ‘short time commercial sex.”

One female resident told this paper: “Girls or women who can do ‘jurbu’ or commercial sex, the least money they can earn or make per day range from L$7,000 to L$9,000. “Short time with a male sexual partner costs from L$2000 to L$2500, depending on the status of the male,” another woman hinted this paper.

Our investigation, at the same time established that of recent, there was an outburst of gold wealth that led to the influx of youths in the area. It is also gathered that most of the youths now abandoned school to chase money from illegal gold mining activities and other unlawful practices.

It may be recalled that President Joseph Nyuma Boakai admitted in late 2023 in an interview with the UK-based Reuters News Agency that Liberia’s mining sector has been a problem for the country, with natural resources being exploited while the lives of the people in the host communities remain in misery and poverty.

“To be frank with you, the mining sector has been one of the problems in this country. I have seen our resources exploited, and the lives of the people remain the worst,” President Boakai told Reuters.
Boakai’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Wilmot Paye, also assured at his induction program that the country’s mining and energy sectors need to be rescued.

Minister Paye promised to rescue the mines and energy sectors of the country in two years, setting it on the path of being the bedrock of the country’s growth and development.

Minister Paye: “We are not here today by chance or coincidence. We are here to help make real the promises contained in the President’s ARREST Agenda. What a critical time to take over this Ministry?”

The Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority FDA, Rudolph Merah, making an acceptance statement in February this year pledged to remain loyal to the state and people as it relates to moving the forestry sector forward in accordance with the 3Cs equation including Conservation, Commercial and Community forestry programs.

Throughout its history, Sapo National Park has been threatened by illegal farming, hunting, logging, and mining, “all exacerbated by the country’s grinding poverty” and social and political instability.

However, in the early 1990s, the World Conservation Monitoring Center reported that “[rural development projects around the Park and general acceptance of its existence have helped to minimize potential conflicts.”

Until the 1990s, poaching was limited due to various initiatives, funded by the United States Agency for International Development that made local villagers’ stakeholders to the park’s preservation goals.
Sapo National Park covers an area of 1,804 km2 (697 sq mi).

The Park is bounded to the north by the Putu Mountains and to the west by the Sinoe River.

The park’s quite homogeneous, flat and marshy topography supports a large area of uninhabited forests.

Its southeastern area has lower elevations of approximately 100m (328 ft) and gentle hills, while there are elevations of about 400 m (1,312 ft) and steep ridges in the north.

The Park has a tropical climate, with temperatures ranging between 22 and 28 °C (72–82 °F). The forest’s average relative humidity is 91%. Annual precipitation at Basintown, 4 km (2 mi) south of the Park’s headquarters, averaged 2,596 mm (100 in).

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