The Gola Rainforest National Park (GRNP), which was formerly funded by the European Union, and now being funded by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), has passed out another batch of six forest guards after a one week selection course.
The six officers who will eventually become part of the already existing 50 forest rangers are presently stationed at the Gola South Sileti substation in Makpele chiefdom, Pujehun district.
During the opening session of the training, Acting Deputy; Protected Area Manager of GRNP, Tamba Vandi, described the training as very important for not only the rangers and forest guards but the entire GRNP programme. He said that without them the programme would not be able to meet its goal of protecting GRNP.
He appealed to all and sundry to take the training very seriously, as it will add to all their knowledge.
Addressing the recruits at the training ground, the field ranger trainer, Charles Conteh, welcomed all to the training and urged them to do their best so they could be among those that are finally selected.
Four candidates were selected from forest edge communities in each of the chiefdoms of Nomo, Malema and Tunkia. Out of the 12 recruits six would be selected.
Conteh described forest guards work, as love for their country, dedication and commitment in ensuring that the GRNP natural resources are being protected against illegal activities for the benefit of the nation now and for future generations. He said the training would be intensive and everybody must be ready for it.
Mohamed S. Koroma, Assistant trainer, told the recruits that those selected will be expected to spend more time in the GRNP than outside and that they are not to comprise with poachers in any form but they are to work cordially with the community people in ensuring that the national park is protected all the time. He emphasized that they must live up to the expectation of all and sundry by not being part of any illegal activities in the national park. He appealed to them not to put shame to their communities by being involved with any illegal activities that will bring total disgrace to them and their chiefdoms they are representing.
He added that even if their relatives are caught undertaking illegal activities in GRNP the relatives must be apprehended and handed to the appropriate authorities in the chiefdom and then to the GRNP office for redress.
A training facilitator, Mohamed T. Dugba, said the role of the rangers and forest guards is also very pivotal in the implementation of the Across the River Trans-boundary Peace Park Project.
The operations of the GRNP forest guards are serving as a good example for their Liberian counterparts to duplicate.
Vandi M. Swaray, a recruit from Malema chiefdom, assured his audience on behalf of his colleagues of maximum co-operation and commitment adding that the forest belongs to all the nation and they will do everything possible to live up to the expectation of all.
At the end of the week’s rigorous training six new forest guards were selected with two each coming from the Malema, Nomo and Tunkia chiefdoms respectively.
By Saffa Moriba