Music star, David Adeleke popularly known by his stage-name as Davido and other top celebrities including footballer Alex Iwobi, Nollywood actress Stephanie Linus, Miss Tourism Nigeria, Mercy Odjugo, and Comedian Emmanuela are leading a campaign against illegal killing, trafficking and consumption of endangered wild species in Nigeria.
They are involved in the campaign as WildAid ambassadors. WildAid is a nonprofit organisation with a mission to protect wildlife against illegal trade and other imminent threats.
Launched in Lagos, the campaign is aimed at reducing demand for illegal bushmeat in major urban centers in Nigeria , support enforcement activities to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and raise awareness of disappearing wildlife using the slogans “keep them wild, keep us safe” and “poaching steals from us all.”
The celebrities who were the toasts of all eyes at the event took a stand to do everything within their powers to cause a change of attitude of Nigerians from perceiving wild species as bush meat to natural assets that should be conserved to promote tourism and sustain the health of the environment.
Davido, while reminiscing the pleasurable childhood experiences he enjoyed when visiting the zoos with his parents and other family members called on all and sundry to unite in preserving wildlife as it is “for the betterment of the environment, the people,Nigeria and the world at large”.
“In my childhood, we would go to the zoos. It was interesting. I am very excited to be part of the campaign”, said Davido in a remark.
Also in a remark, Stephanie stated that she was “personally excited to be a part of this campaign”. The actress beleived strongly that if efficiently conserved, wildlife would contribute immensely to the nation’s economy. She said “I have seen wildlife tourism transform economies. I beleive that it will get to that level in Nigeria”.
Contributing, child comedian Emmanuella Samuel passionately appealed to all her fans and the general public to desist from patronising illegal bushmeat. Emmanuella who will turn 12 by July 22 noted that “i am very delighted to be here. When i came, i was glad to see a pangolin. Please, lets work together to keep them safe, so that our generation will see them in the wild”.
On her part, Miss Tourism Nigeria, Mercy Odjugo stressed the huge contribution of wildlife to the development of the tourism industry of any nation. “I am happy to be a part of this campaign. Wildlife actually promotes tourism because a lot of people will like to come to see those animals and it not good that we are killing them , using them for bushmeat”, remarked the beauty queen.
Footballer Alex Iwobi and other WildAid ambassadors involved in the project were not present at the event as they were said to be out of the country.
Among top dignitaries from government included Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor , Commissioner for Environment, Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi and Director General, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA, Prof. Aliyu Jauro.
A stement by WildAid says, ” The campaign includes TV public service announcements, billboards, social media campaigns, radio and TV series with ambassadors from music, Nollywood,sports, religion and entertainment. Developed in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and other government agencies, the campaign stars Afrobeats artistes Davido and Mayorkun, Everton FC and Nigerian footballer Alex Iwobi, Nollywood star Stephanie Linus, comedian Emmanuella and Josh2Funny, Mercy Jessica Odjugo (Miss Tourism Nigeria) and religious leaders from the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) , International stars, including Lupita N’yongo, Danai Gurira, Djimon Hounsou, Jackie Chan and Kung Fu Panda will also be featured in the campaign.
“WildAid has built robust media partnerships with over two-dozen broadcast, print and online organisations to amplify the campaign messages.
“Today, Nigeria has non-surviving cheetahs, rhinos or giraffes and fewer than 50 lions, 100 gorillas, 500 elephants and 2,300 chimpanzees left in the wild. Despite ongoing conservation efforts, poaching for body parts and meat along with habitat loss from deforestation, infrastructure development and agricultural expansion threaten wildlife in Nigeria.
“Illegal bushmeat consumption is widespread across Nigeria’s top cities. Commissioned by WildAid, a survey by GlobeScan revealed 71% of the respondents say they have consumed bushmeat at some point in their lives.
“Nigeria has emerged as the top transit point in the world for illegal ivory and pangolin scale trafficking from Africa to Asia. Between 2016 and 2019, over half of the pangolin scales seized globally came from Nigeria”.