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Conservationists seek pangolin protection as Nigeria, others mark day

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
21 February 2022   |   4:05 am
Experts have urged the Federal Government to amend laws that will protect and raise awareness on endangered scaly mammal known as pangolin.

Pangolin… one of the endangered species

Experts have urged the Federal Government to amend laws that will protect and raise awareness on endangered scaly mammal known as pangolin.

They spoke at the World Pangolin Day (WPD) held at the weekend to raise awareness about the unique mammals and speed up conservation efforts. The WPD is celebrated on the “Third Saturday of February” every year. In 2022, the yearly World was celebrated on February 19 and it marked the 11th edition of the event.

Until recently, pangolins were little known, and were arguably forgotten species, receiving little conservation attention and investment. Their profile has grown in the last five years, no thanks to efforts from pangolin range states.

Poaching of pangolins for international wildlife trafficking is a major threat to the species. It is estimated that since 2000, more than one million pangolins have been traded illegally, which makes them the most trafficked wild mammal in the world.

Since 2014, all eight pangolin species have been classified as threatened with extinction on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Chinese and Sunda species are now listed as Critically Endangered, the Indian and Philippine pangolins as endangered, and the four vulnerable.

WildAid has been in the frontline of the fight for pangolins, launching its public awareness campaign early this year, which aims at eliminating demand for pangolins in one of the world’s largest markets – Nigeria – through behaviour change campaigns designed to educate consumers and make consumption of pangolin products less attractive.

According to the President, WildAid, Peter Knights, “Nigeria has emerged as the top transit point in the world for illegal ivory and pangolin scale trafficked from Africa to Asia. From 2016 to 2019, over half of the pangolin scales seized globally came from Nigeria.”

Mr. Chinedu Mogbo of Greenfingers Wildlife Conservation Initiative told The Guardian that there is need for the Federal Government to increase the penalty for trafficking pangolins and ensure forest resources are protected.

He said that weak laws and enforcement have made Nigeria to lose its endangered species and forest resources.

MEANWHILE, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) has called on all Nigerians to take useful urgent actions in conserving the remaining species of Pangolin.

NCF is seeking help of all concerned Nigerians in creating huge awareness about the need for pangolin conservation.

NCF Head of Communications, Mr. Oladapo Soneye, in a statement, said pangolins play a critical role in the ecosystems, by providing the earth with natural pest control. A single pangolin eats as much as 70 million insects per year, which is important to keep soils aerated, tender and fertile.

He said: “In recent times, the rate at which Pangolins are locally sourced, packaged and routed through Nigeria for the international markets and the scale of occasional seizures reported are cogent to motivate the earnest support and participation of identified stakeholders.”