In a pivotal turning point for Liberia’s elephant conservation, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has formally signed off on a National Elephant Action Plan (NEAP) – devised by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and partners and funded by Stop Ivory – to help tackle the growing threats to the country’s forest elephants.
This is a significant achievement that will place Liberia in a strong position internationally to attract much-needed support for elephant conservation.
West Africa has lost more than 90% of its suitable elephant habitat over the last 35 years, as a result of logging, mining and agriculture. Forest elephants are currently classified as a rarer subspecies of African elephants, although some experts now argue that they might be a separate species. An escalation in poaching means that forest elephants are severely threatened, with numbers thought to be as low as 300 individuals (a lack of recent systematic studies makes it difficult to estimate numbers accurately).
Liberia’s elephant population is extremely important; the country provides the largest forest cover out of the 8 African countries through which forest elephants roam.
Whilst complementing the broader African Elephant Action Plan, Liberia’s NEAP helps to identify specific actions and interventions for which targeted funding will be sought. This will include a nationwide baseline assessment of forest elephants – the first for Liberia.
“This action plan is an essential step in coordinating efforts at a national level”
– Michelle Klailova, FFI’s Liberia Programme Manager.