Commissioner Emmanuel Jlikan’s Journey from Law Enforcement to Wildlife Conservation in Liberia

Despite enduring decades of instability, conflict, and severe disease outbreaks, Liberia, a small West African country, is home to some of the rarest species of wildlife on the planet. The Upper Guinean Forest, spanning six countries, finds nearly half of its territory in Liberia, harboring diverse species like the Western chimpanzee, Pygmy Hippopotamus, Lesser spot-nosed monkey, Diana Monkey, Bongo, and many others struggling amidst intense pressures from agricultural expansion, mining, and poaching. With numerous species facing the threat of extinction, rallying support for aggressive conservation efforts is imperative.

Meet Mr. Emmanuel Jlikan, a dedicated public servant whose journey from humble beginnings to national leadership in law enforcement is intertwined with a passion for wildlife conservation. Hailing from Monrovia, Liberia, Emmanuel was born in 1969 and raised amidst the civil strife that gripped his nation.

His formative years in Logan Town laid the foundation for his future aspirations, influenced by an impeccably dressed policeman who patrolled his neighborhood. It was this sight that ignited Emmanuel’s desire to contribute to his community through law enforcement. Recalling the moment, he reflects, “I made a solemn vow to myself that one day, I would dedicate myself to serving the public through the Liberia National Police.”

Driven by unwavering determination, Emmanuel seized the opportunity to pursue his calling when he learned of recruitment openings with the Liberia National Police (LNP) in 1995. Thus began his journey towards realizing his childhood dream, a journey marked by dedication, perseverance, and a profound sense of duty to his country and its people.

Graduating with honors from the National Police Academy, he embarked on a career path within the Liberia National Police (LNP) that would see him undergo additional training under the United Nations following the end of the civil war. His journey within the LNP took him through various roles within the Criminal Investigation Division, where he honed his investigative and leadership skills, laying the groundwork for his later endeavors.

Emmanuel Jlikan’s journey from a determined recruit to a leading figure in law enforcement is nothing short of remarkable. Yet, it was in 2023 that Emmanuel’s narrative took an unforeseen twist, as he found himself drawn to another calling: wildlife conservation.

The catalyst for this transformation was a training session facilitated by Danny Murphy, a Technical Advisor for Focused Conservation. As Murphy passionately explained the critical role of wildlife law enforcement in saving species in peril, Emmanuel was inspired to the urgent need to protect wildlife and embraced opportunities to champion conservation efforts in Liberia.

Under his leadership as Commissioner and with assistance from Focused Conservation, the Special Wildlife Investigation Unit (SWIU) was created in May 2023, bringing together agencies like the Liberia National Police, Forestry Development Authority, and Customs Services. This collaborative approach marked a pivotal moment in Liberia’s efforts to combat wildlife crime.

Amidst numerous successful operations conducted by the SWIU since its establishment, a particularly memorable incident stands out in Emmanuel’s mind: the confiscation of three endangered West African Slender-snouted crocodiles from a school campus, amid baseless political speculations. During a search warrant execution at the residence of a prominent politician, public resistance escalated. Emmanuel emphasizes the pivotal role played by the Focused Conservation team, whose timely intervention dispelled rumors and de-escalated tensions peacefully. This event underscores the critical importance of community engagement and transparency in fostering relationships and effective conservation efforts.

The Commissioner applauds the efforts of Focused Conservation to mentor the SWIU and added, “In my opinion, for this short period, the Unit has worked very hard, counting on the successes attained.”

Reflecting on the SWIU’s achievements, including the largest seizure of pangolin scales (369 kgs.) in Liberian history during Operation PEAR, Emmanuel acknowledges the need for continued support and improvement to the effort to remain effective. He believes that wildlife conservation offers fulfilling career opportunities and urges communities to embrace conservation efforts for the greater good.

Despite challenges like logistical constraints, Emmanuel remains committed to enhancing the police force’s capacity for conservation. His vision for the future includes expanding public awareness and strengthening partnerships with local communities and organizations like Focused Conservation. Emmanuel remarked, “Public awareness is pivotal in the field, especially in the preservation of endangered species.”

As Commissioner of Police and a supporter of conservation, Emmanuel Jlikan exemplifies the power of service and passion in creating positive change for Liberia’s wildlife and communities. As a devoted husband and father of five, he feels the necessity to preserve endangered species and their habitats for future generations. His journey epitomizes resilience, dedication, and the impact of collaborative action in safeguarding Liberia’s wildlife and communities.

Scroll to Top