The Federal Government of Nigeria has pledged that it would to everything possible to check wildlife crimes in the country, while supporting and implementing initiatives that promote the flourishing of wild animals and plants.
This the government said was necessary to increase revenue from tourism, ensure rich wildlife reserve as legacy for future generations and prevent future pandemics.
The nation’s Minister of State for Environment , Mrs Sharon Ikeazor made the pledge on behalf of Government in Lagos during the official launch of the WildAid campaign against wildlife crimes in Nigeria.
WildAid, a U.S based nonprofit international wildlife conservation organisations has been joining forces with public and private stakeholders in Nigeria to tackle the demand for bushmeat and other wildlife crimes in the country.
Mrs. Ikeazor said “The Federal Government of Nigeria is committed to protecting , restoring and promoting sustainable use of our biodiversity. We will support the sustainable management of forests, combat desertification, land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. Our collaboration with relevant agencies and stakeholders to stem the tide of wildlife overexploitation and trafficking has led to the development and implementation of strategies to combat corruption risk associated with transnational organised wildlife crime’.
She was the Special Guest of Honour at the event.
The Lagos Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi while emphasising the urgent need to tackle wildlife crimes across Nigeria and the world in general declared that, ‘We have not been very good custodians of our ecosystems. We plunder,poison, extract and deplete our biodiversity not realising that without the free gifts of nature that these biomes provide , we will cease to exist.
“Disrupting the delicate balances of nature with our heavy human footprint cause major repercussions such as severe weather changes and biological threats like COVIF and Ebola. Of we continue this path without a major and drastic reversal, we are inducing an existential threat scenario, meaning the earth may become too hostile for humans or other life forms to exist”.
WildAid President, Peter Knights said his organisation has been partnering a wide range of stakeholders to ensure the success of the campaign in Nigeria, even as its doors are open to work with more public and private sectors.
He maintained that “WildAid has responded with the most extensive wildlife awareness program in Nigeria, designing behaviour change communication strategies to promote wildlife conservation awareness in Nigeria, highlight the social and moral unacceptability of poaching and wildlife smuggling and encourage the Nigerian public to visit their own national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
“Nigeria was once home to rhinos, giraffes and cheetahs, but sadly due to habitat destruction and poaching, they have become extinct here. Bu all hope isn’t lost as Nigeria still has iconic wildlife species such as lions, elephants, Cross River gorillas and Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees. There are about 50 lions, fewer than 500 elephants, around 100 gorillas and between 1,400 to 2,300 chimpanzee surviving today in national parks, game and forest reserves and wildlife sanctuaries across Nigeria”, he added.