A former goalie for the Liberian national soccer team, Peal has used his public image as a soccer star to the advantage of the conservation movement. In the mid-1980s he launched a national conservation education program. This momentum was stalled, however, in 1989, when civil war forced the collapse of civil society and the country was ruled by chaos and terror.
All conservation activities ceased during the war and Peal—like many other civil servants, some of whom were summarily executed—was forced into hiding. With the intervention of his foreign conservationist colleagues, Peal and his family fled Liberia, finding political asylum in Southern California, where he worked as a field director for the Foundation for Field Research and later as a laboratory technician at the University of California, San Diego.
In 1992, while still in exile, Peal founded the Society for the Renewal of Nature Conservation in Liberia (SRNCL) to keep the conservation efforts in Liberia alive. Within weeks of the 1997 cease-fire in Liberia, he led a small group, accompanied by international peacekeeping soldiers, to assess the status of Sapo National Park and its surrounding communities. Peal returned to Monrovia in 1998 where he is now working to resume the country’s conservation activities. Thanks to his efforts, in November 1999, the Liberian Senate ratified the United Nations’ agreement on biodiversity.