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Conservation group seeks penalties for illegal poachers, hunters

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PHOTO: NBC News

Following the recent publication of the IUCN red list of globally threatened species that revealed that 148 animals and 146 plant species found in Nigeria were threatened, the Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF) has called for clear penalties to illegal poachers and hunters to mitigate further illegal harvesting of wildlife.

The Acting Director General of NCF, Dr. Joseph Onoja made the plea as part of statement released to mark this year’s World Wildlife Day (WWD). WWD was conceived during the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in December 1983 as a means to raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora.

It recognizes the importance of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in ensuring that international trade of Wild Flora and Fauna does not threaten the survival of species. The theme of World Wildlife Day 2018 ‘Big cats – predators under threat’ is a step further from last year’s theme ‘‘Listen to the Young Voices’ as a way to ensure the realisation of CITES objective in the 182 member states of the United Nations, on the need to urgently rise to the demands of conserving all form of wildlife.

The group urged the Federal Ministry of Environment and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to create an operational synergy between associated government and non-government stakeholders.

According to the frontline environmental organization, the government must strengthen the National Park Service to enhance their capacity for wildlife conservation and protection; increase awareness and education on the intrinsic value of wildlife to the society and undertake infrastructural development plans to incorporate the wildlife protection/survival programme.

Onoja said that monitoring and data compilation must complement environmental education and awareness. “The fiercest of wild animals cannot protect itself from those out to poach or illegally traffic them, it’s up to you and me, together we can restore Nigeria’s wildlife heritage and give a voice to the younger ones.”

“We hope it is not too late to right the wrongs. Out of the very large landmass that Nigeria boasts of, we have only seven National Parks.”

He said that fewer than 50 lions remain in Nigeria while the global value of illegal wildlife trade is soaring beyond 50 – 150 billion USD per year. “Conversely, less than 7,100 cheetahs remain in the wild, globally. These and many more statistics of the state of wildlife suggest that the time for urgent action is now!”

For long, Nigeria has rested on an erroneous notion that our wild animals were plentiful and not under any threat of extinction.


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