The President, Board of Trustees, Nigerian Conservation Foundation, Chief Philip Asiodu, has called on the Federal Government to join the rest of the world in the fight against illegal trade in wildlife.
Asiodu, who spoke at the NCF’s 27th Annual General Meeting in Lagos, said illegal trade in wildlife was a major driver of species loss.
He said, “Nigeria needs to align with the growing number of countries around the world that have demonstrated their commitment to stopping poaching and illegal trade in wildlife.
“The unfortunate hacking of elephants and rhinos for their tusks and horns, respectively; as well as killing of pangolins and vultures; sea turtles and other endangered species for their body parts for traditional medicine and delicacies persist, as does the illegal demand for ivory, scales and horns, among so many other forms of trafficking in the endangered species that collectively share the planet earth with us.”
According to him, the callous trade is depleting the population of wildlife that render valuable benefit to the ecosystem.
He noted that it had been reported that between the year 2010 and 2012, approximately 100,000 African elephants were killed out of a population estimated to be less than 500,000.
Asiodu added, “Were this trend to be turned around, huge revenues could be generated in ecotourism. But sadly, the Cross River gorilla is classified as critically endangered and is now the most threatened ape in Africa, thus casting a huge doubt on the possibility of Nigeria making any fortune from tourism in that regard unless decisive actions are taken.
“We wish to recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, as Head of the Federal Military Government, graciously responded to the NCF’s advocacy measures on conservation of Nigeria’s natural resources by signing a declaration on conservation on the 3rd of December, 1984. He also promulgated the Endangered Species Decree of 1984.”
According to Asiodu, climate change remains the biggest global environmental threat and adaptive measures need to be taken now to protect arid regions in the northern part of the nation where desert encroachment is happening at a fast rate.
“It is our desire to continue to raise our awareness to a much higher level, knowing fully well that solving environmental issues will require truly comprehensive action and response at the local and international levels, as the illegal trade in wildlife resources transcends borders,” he added.
The Director-General, NCF, Adeniyi Karunwi, said the foundation achieved a lot in project implementation as well as environmental and conservation awareness creation in the last one year.
“The year also marked the period when a more rejuvenated and target-driven management and staff were put in place, thereby setting the foundation for increased activities,” he said.
The Chairman, NCF National Executive Council, Chief Ede Dafinone, said the groundwork for engagements with policymakers and key players in the environment and conservation sector had been laid over time.
He said it recently culminated in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Ministry of Environment to give the NCF an important leverage in all environmental and conservation issues in the country.
“We have also renewed our strategic partnership with relevant government parastatals, which has now enhanced our prospects of expanding the coverage of our conservation activities unhindered and with the required support,” he said.
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