Stakeholders decry effect of insecurity on tourism
Stakeholders in tourism industry have expressed concern over dwindling fortunes of the parks and game reserves, especially in the northern part of the country.
In separate chats with The Guardian, they argued that business activities in the Lake Chad Basin, Kamulu, Okomu and Gashaka national parks are at low ebb, attributing it to insecurity, which made tourists to stay away.
According to them, most national parks have been abandoned to nomadic herders and hunters, while exotic animals are going extinct.
Kwame Awere-Gyekye of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) noted that issues of insecurity and illegal wildlife trade affected the industry in West Africa.
He urged governments to equip park operators to enable them address the issues urgently because the illicit trade had not been recognised as crime.
On her part, permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Ibukun Udusote, told The Guardian that in the last 10 years, Nigeria had lost 27 park rangers to assault by park violators.
She lamented that park operators trek long distances on rugged terrains under harsh weather conditions, risking attack by wild animals, in their line of duty.
She said: “Rangers are under-equipped and underpaid because they work in remote areas. The current staff strength of National Park Service is far below average. It should be a person per five square kilometres of rain forest.”
Noting the job as a thankless one, the permanent secretary urged governments at all levels, donor organisations, civil society and individuals to support national parks to serve the country better.
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