Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sierra Leone: Leopard found in Gola Forest

Milene Datil And Mohammed Massaquoi

24 March 2009

Freetown — Officers of the Gola Forest Programme, operating in the southeast of the country, have confirmed the discovery of a leopard, pygmy hippo, zebra duiker, and bongo among others, animals they have not noticed in the reserve for a very long time.

Gola forest protected area manager John Moriba made the revelation on Friday whiles explaining to journalists the necessity of protecting the forest reserve.

He said the forest has a high biodiversity of birds, mammals and plants, adding that the discovery of leopard, pygmy hippo and other animals was an achievement by his organization as it would serve as an essential tourist attraction centre.

Moriba noted that a group of researchers through the camera trapping system have recorded a lot of animals and of different species, most of them were about to face extinction in the country.

"The Gola Forest is even more valuable than diamonds; the forests serve as biodiversity source and also provide ecological services such as water and crop production.

It is disheartening to note that there are serious threats to the forest which range from logging, hunting and diamond mining.

We are appealing to government to address these problems as we are contemplating that by 2012 through the support from government and other partners, the reserve would attain the status of a national park.

"President Koroma on several occasions has laid emphases on the importance of the forest reserve but we are concern about the recent proposed mining that is to be undertaking by a Chinese mining company. We are gravely concern and therefore urge the president to make public statement in order to reaffirm the operations of Gola in that part of the country"

He said adding that they have enormous support from the French government, European Union and conservation international a US based organization.

He called on all Sierra Leoneans to support the project as the Gola Forest is the green diamond of Sierra Leone which everybody should be proud of.

http://allafrica.com/stories/200903240756.html

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