By Omar Bah
The Gambia Environmental Alliance, joined by a coalition of concerned citizens and passionate wildlife enthusiasts and dedicated conservation advocates, has condemned the ‘unlawful’ killing of a hippopotamus, which was later donated to President Barrow.
Image of a dead hippo presented as a gift to the president emerged on social media with the president himself seen at the scene at his residence in Mankamang Kunda.
The news of the killing and donation of the hippo to the president generated strong condemnation from individuals and several conservationists who considered the act illegal, while others accused the president of ordering its killing.
However, Momodou Lamin Gassama, Director of Parks and Wildlife, has denied claims that the Gambian leader ordered the killing of the endangered species at Wassu, Niani District, Central River Region over the weekend.
Gassama told online media platform The Alkamba Times that the hippo was killed by a wildlife ranger on the orders of the Department of Parks and Wildlife after a series of complaints received from the women rice farmers in Wassu.
But reacting to the news, in a statement shared with The Standard, the Gambia Environmental Alliance wrote: “This brazen act not only flagrantly violates the laws of our land but also strikes at the heart of our collective dedication to preserving and safeguarding our natural environment. With its diverse and flourishing ecosystem, The Gambia is home to a plethora of precious wildlife, including the protected hippopotamus. The ruthless killing of this majestic creature not only represents a criminal transgression but also runs counter to the core principles of our society, which values the sanctity of all living beings and the harmony of our shared habitat.
“We urgently implore His Excellency, President Adama Barrow, to issue a resounding denouncement of this despicable act and to swiftly implement decisive measures that guarantee the prevention of such heinous deeds within our borders. As a nation, we look to our esteemed leader to reinforce our unwavering commitment to the preservation of our wildlife and the conservation of our natural heritage. Moreover, we call upon the President to reaffirm the Banjul Declaration of 1977, a significant accord dedicated to the protection of African wildlife and the preservation of our precious environment. By reinvigorating this declaration, we can rekindle our collective dedication to the principles of sustainability, environmental stewardship, and the safeguarding of our unique and invaluable wildlife.”
The group added that the tragic demise of the hippopotamus serves as a stark reminder that our endeavours to shield “our environment and its inhabitants must be continual and resolute”.
“It is imperative that, as a nation, we stand shoulder to shoulder in defense of our natural heritage, ensuring its preservation for generations to come. Instances such as this not only warrant condemnation but must also serve as a clarion call for the intensification of our conservation efforts. We urge all citizens, organizations, and members of the global community to join forces in securing the protection of our environment and its diverse inhabitants. May this grievous incident mark a turning point, prompting us to unite in our shared duty to safeguard our nation’s ecological treasures,” the group noted.
The Gambia Environment Alliance said it remains resolutely committed to the protection of the Gambia’s environment and wildlife and eagerly anticipates collaborating with all stakeholders in the relentless pursuit of preventing such atrocities and upholding the richness of our nation’s biodiversity.