NCF moves against illegal vulture trade, appoints ambassadors
The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) has pledged to reduce by 20 per cent the illegal trade of African vulture parts in wildlife markets in Nigeria by 2021.
The group restated that efforts would be doubled through strengthened law enforcement and identification of alternative tradable products.
The Director, Technical Programmes (NCF), Dr Joseph Onoja, disclosed this during the announcement of three new Vulture Ambassadors, namely Tito Da Fire, Frank Donga and Mariam Longe in Lagos. The ambassadorial position was given to them in recognition of their advocacy for the protection of vultures.
Nigerian is known as a hotspot for export of illegally sourced wildlife products like vultures, Pangolins, and other animals. Globally, the population of vultures have suffered a serious decline with some species recording about 95 per cent decline. A life vulture is worth $85-140 while a dead vulture is worth about $60, depending on location and availability.
This decline, Dr Onoja said has been blamed on various factors including direct persecution, poisoning, death from diclofenac bio-magnification, and the use of vulture parts for traditional medicines.
He disclosed that NCF took deliberate steps to reverse the trend in Nigeria while joining the BirdLife Partnership across the globe to curb the global decline.
The conservationist observed that to tackle illegal wildlife trade in Nigeria, more holistic intervention is needed to address knowledge gap among the public on the socio-economic and ecological role of vulture in the society.
According to him, strengthening capacity and awareness of law enforcement agencies was also seen as a priority while domestication of existing laws and policies such as the CITES Endangered Species Act 2016 across sub-national governments is key
He stated that the decline of the Hooded Vulture population was thought to be imperceptible because of the its cosmopolitan nature. However, he noted that it took just five years for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to raise the conservation status of this species from least concern to critically endangered.
Other causes of decline he stated include, poisoning in abattoirs for onward sale in the wildlife market, extraction of eggs from nests, habitat degradation from indiscriminate logging, thereby reducing nest sites for vultures, and perception of vultures as harbinger of ill will leading to direct persecution by the local residents.
Onoja said the foundation has visited about 17 wildlife markets across Ogun, Osun, and Ondo States in Southwest Nigeria and engaged over 3,000 stakeholders including actors and non-actors and engage state governments Ministries Department and Agencies; law enforcement agency, transportation union and traditional healers’ association.
The Director-General of NCF, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, thanked them for the good work they were doing in the protection and conservation of nature, especially, vultures.
In their acceptance remarks, musician and singer, Tito Da Fire also known as Uduak Peters, promised to take the “Save Vulture” advocacy beyond the boundaries of social media.
He promised to go the extra mile in having interpersonal discussions with traditionalists who made use of vultures in their practice. On her part, TV presenter, Mariam Longe, vowed to take the ‘Save Vulture’ campaign to schools. According to her, it is important to teach the younger generation the importance of vultures in the maintenance of balance in the eco- system.