‘Nigeria needs strong laws, enforcement to protect endangered species’
A non-profit group, Wild Africa Fund (WAF) has called for strong laws and enforcement to protect endangered species in the country.
While launching a campaign to raise awareness about the threats facing endangered species in Nigeria to mark Endangered Species Day, a yearly event to celebrate and act to protect threatened and endangered species, the group urged the National Assembly to pass the Endangered Species Conservation and Protection Bill and Nigerians to protect endangered species.
WAF hoped the bill would be signed into law to combat wildlife and forest crime in the country.
“This will go a long way in strengthening enforcement and prosecution of wildlife trafficking offenders and put an end to the illegal killing of Nigeria’s wildlife,” according to the fund’s Nigeria Representative, Kelechukwu Iruoma.
He said: “Our iconic giraffes, rhinos, and cheetahs have already gone into extinction due to illegal wildlife activities. It will be disastrous for Nigeria to lose its remaining endangered animals.”
These endangered species play significant roles in preserving the ecosystem. Pangolins, for example, consume about 70 million insects in a year to regulate the insect population numbers so that crops can grow.
WAF commended the Federal High Court’s conviction and sentencing of two Nigerians to four years imprisonment for conspiracy and unlawful possession of 839.4kg of pangolin scales and 145 kg of elephant tusks after pleading guilty to the charges brought against them by the Nigeria Customs Services (NCS).
The fund’s founder, Peter Knights, congratulated NCS and the prosecutors for this historic conviction and urged them to continue the great work to bring an end to all forms of wildlife crime in the country.
“We hope this signals a new era for Nigeria to become the regional leader in policing and prosecuting wildlife crime,” Knights said.
The fund also called on all Nigerians to “Say No to Illegal Bushmeat,” as a way to ease some of the pressures on endangered species in the country.
Nigeria is home to numerous wild animals such as pangolins, lions, chimpanzees, elephants, gorillas, vultures, manatees and parrots.
But these animals are now endangered and at risk of extinction due to poaching for bushmeat consumption, as well as illegal wildlife trade and habitat destruction.
These animals now categorised in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Species are also threatened by deforestation and illegal logging due to encroachment by local communities for agricultural expansion.