Liberia: Monkeys, Pets or Meat?

Photos: Laura McClure

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Editors’ Note: Laura McClure traveled to Liberia this month on an IRP Gatekeeper Editors trip organized by the International Reporting Project (IRP).

I asked this University of Liberia student (see photo) what Christmas present I should bring back to America for my 4-year-old.

“Maybe a monkey?” he suggested.

Me: “As a pet?”

Student: “Yes, as a pet.”

Me: “But don’t Liberians also eat monkeys?”

Student: “Yes, but first you can play with them. Families do that sometimes, raise monkeys and then eat them.”

Me: “What about dogs, do you eat them too after they’re pets?”

Student: “Yes, dogs too.”

Me: “Cats?”

Student: “Yes.”

Me: “Birds?”

Student: “Yes.”

Me: “Lizards?”

Student: “Yes.”

Me: “Chameleons?”

Student: “No.” (Makes a disgusted face.)

Maybe he was putting me on, but I kind of doubt it. Bushmeat is a big, unapologetic family cottage industry in Liberia, hence Sapo National Park signs and bumper stickers with “please don’t eat the wildlife” messaging, like this one:

"Please don't feed the wildlife" stickers might be a ways off.“Please don’t feed the wildlife” stickers might be a ways off.

Stay tuned for more Africa dispatches.

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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

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