Liberia: Monkeys, Pets or Meat?

| Mon Nov. 29, 2010 3:43 PM EST

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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