NCF, others set strategies to combat illegal wildlife trade
No fewer than 45 participants have drawn up strategies to combat illegal trade and trafficking of Vulture and other wildlife in the country.
The three-day national training workshop was targeted at law enforcement agencies, including border control agencies. The training focused on practicalities and best practices in strengthening enforcement, investigation, and intelligence towards combatting wildlife crime.
The participants were drawn from Nigeria Custom Service, National Park Services, National Drug law Enforcement Agencies, Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Department of Forestry and CITES Management Authority and Federal Ministry of Justice.
In his presentation, Mr. John Timothy Daniel of Department of Forestry, Federal Ministry of Environmen, revealed that Nigeria is the first signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora in Africa. This led to enactment of Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1985.
He said, “the objectives of ESA are to protect endangered species of animals and plants; ensure that threatened species of animals are safe in their natural habitats.”
A representative of the Nigeria Custom Service, Mrs. Abimbola Animashaun, said the best practice in intelligence gathering for illegal wildlife trade enforcement in Nigeria should be collective. “So, let’s put aside inter-agency rivalry, improve on existing collaboration, maximise the strength in our diversity as stakeholders with some mission and vision for Nigeria, to allow information flow, timely intelligence dissemination, to support and ease the work of enforcement, investigation and prosecution to achieve the set objective. This will end illegal wildlife trade or crime.”
Speaking on “Nigeria’s Effort in Tackling Illegal Trade in Vulture Parts and Belief-based Use,” NCF Director of Technical Programme, Dr. Joseph Onoja, said five tons of Vulture comprising four species (Hooded, Lappet-faced, White backed, and Egyptian Vultures) are illegally traded in 13 wildlife markets across Nigeria with an estimate of about five tons per quarter at the inception of this project.
He said NCF, together with other stakeholders, have been promoting what is called ‘plant-based alternatives.’ “We are engaging with Traditional Healers Association in Nigeria in finalising a Plant-based Alternative Guide for Traditional Healers. Some of the plants discovered in South-West Nigeria are ewe sikinrinmidin, eso werejeje,” Onoja said.
In a related development, NCF conducted lectures, essay and competitions for students in post primary school in Lagos, Ibadan, Kano and Nguru, during the World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD).
In Kano State, 10 students from eight secondary schools participated in the competition. The students drew an Egyptian Vulture one of the migratory bird species that is rare in the country.
In Nguru, Yobe State, 40 Junior and Senior Secondary School Students drawn from 10 secondary schools within Nguru participated in the competition held at Reality Model School, Low-cost Estate, Nguru.
Prizes were given to students that show outstanding performance as a means to increase publicity and raise more awareness about Migratory Birds Day.