Wild Africa Fund urges collaboration to protect elephants in Nigeria
As nations commemorate World Elephant Day, Wild Africa Fund (WAF) has hailed the efforts of its partners in Nigeria working to protect elephants, while encouraging the government to safeguard national parks home to forest elephants.
While Africa boasts approximately 415,000 elephants, Nigeria grapples with multifaceted challenges threatening its native elephant population. Habitat loss, poaching for ivory and human-elephant conflict are the major threats elephants face in Nigeria.
Over the past 30 years, Nigeria’s elephant population has dramatically declined from an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 two decades ago to a current estimate of 300 to 400.
It said Nigeria can immensely benefit from sustainable wildlife tourism and conservation initiatives that protect elephants. In places like Zimbabwe, innovative measures are emerging.
In Nigeria, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has been using satellite collars to enhance the monitoring of elephant movements, allowing for a more prompt response when they venture outside the reserve. This has effectively reduced Human- Elephant Conflicts (HEC) incidents, including the use of elephant guardians, construction watchtowers, and the establishment of beehive and odorous elephant fences.
The fund encourages more innovations and collaboration to save elephants in other parts of Nigeria, especially in state-managed forest reserves in southwest Nigeria like Omo in Ogun state and Idanre in Ondo state, where forest elephants face severe logging pressures and agricultural encroachments.
Besides, unprotected sites like Itasin in southwest Nigeria, where some elephants from the Omo forest reserve migrated to and a hotspot for Human-Elephant Conflicts (HEC), should be prioritized with local solutions that protect elephants from humans.
“In addition, we must prioritize the legal protection of the smaller unprotected sites where elephants are still endangered to prevent their potential extinction and continuous clash with humans,” said Festus Iyorah, the Nigeria Representative at Wild Africa Fund.
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.