Wild Africa Fund has advocated for strong laws and enforcement to protect endangered species.
This is contained in a statement signed by Kelechukwu Iruoma, Nigeria’s Representative, Wild Africa Fund, on Friday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the global community marks Endangered Species Day on May 19, an annual event to celebrate and take action to protect threatened and endangered species.
The non-profit organisation is dedicated to raising awareness and promoting efforts that preserve Africa’s natural beauty and wildlife, as well as the communities that rely on it.
It, therefore, called on Nigerians to protect Nigeria’s endangered species.
It also urged the Federal Government to pass the Endangered Species Conservation and Protection Bill.
According to the statement, Nigeria is home to numerous wild animals including pangolins, lions, chimpanzees, elephants, gorillas, vultures, manatees, and parrots.
It sadly noted that these animals were now endangered and at risk of extinction due to poaching for bushmeat consumption and illegal wildlife trade and habitat destruction.
The aforementioned animals are now categorised in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of threatened species, were also threatened by deforestation and illegal logging due to encroachment by local communities for agricultural expansion.
It said that when wild animals were endangered, it meant only a few of them were left in the wild.
It noted that continued threats to these species would further reduce the animal population or make them become extinct in the near future while negatively impacting biodiversity and destroying the ecosystem.
“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,” the statement quoted Iruoma as saying.
The statement said that these endangered species played 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.
“Only strong laws and enforcement can protect our endangered species and make Nigeria number one in wildlife conservation in West Africa,” the statement said.
The body applauded the Federal High Court’s recent 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).
Peter Knights, OBE, Founder, Wild Africa Funds, congratulated the Nigeria Customs Service and the prosecutors for the historic conviction and urged them to continue the great work to bring an end to all forms of wildlife crime in Nigeria.
“We hope this signals a new era for Nigeria to become the regional leader in policing and prosecuting wildlife crime,” Knights said.
Wild Africa Fund hopes the Endangered Species Conservation and Protection Bill would be signed into law to combat wildlife and forest crime in Nigeria.
“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.
“Wild Africa Fund is also calling on all Nigerians to ‘Say No to Illegal Bushmeat as a way to ease some of the pressures on endangered species in the country,” Iruoma added.
By Fabian Ekeruche