As efforts to protect Liberia’s ecosystem amid massive deforestation, Dr. H.C. Wulf Gatter, a German bird scientist, has received the title of Grand Commander of the Star of Africa from the government of Liberia for his many contributions and studies on the country’s birds.
Dr. Gatter is credited for authoring the first avifaunal survey of all Liberia birds titled Birds of Liberia. The book has, to date, provided a complete annotated checklist and distribution maps for all resident species and regular migrants to the country. The author`s work, which is an essential reference for all serious birders and ornithologists, is illustrated by one of the world’s foremost bird artists. At the investiture ceremony held at the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium over the weekend, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf bestowed Liberia highest honor upon Dr. Gatter for his invaluable contribution towards the development of Liberia’s ecosystems. In a conversation with the Capitol Times, Dr. Gatter mentioned that the recognition will strengthen his resolve to do more exploration on birds of Liberia. Gatter explained that research on Liberian birds began since 1981 when took up residence in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County watching and catching birds. According to the Birds Scientist, he decided to stay in Liberia because of the hospitality from the people. He indicated that since his childhood he has been involved in plantation and forest research and the search for birds. “This was the first time that someone has done a bird research in Liberia and I have been in the Liberian forest almost all my life”, he added. Notwithstanding, he mentioned, human activities have influenced the livelihood of birds in Liberia as the clearing of the forest has caused more birds to come to Liberia. “With support from natural conservation institution in Germany, Liberian students are taken on a bird exploration tour every year to watch and catch birds,” Gatter disclosed.