Two men have been arrested in Abuja, Nigeria’s Capital for alleged involvement in trading of a young lion known as cub and the animal rescued.
They were arrested by officials of the National Environmental Standard and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), on Thursday.
The Director, Environmental Quality Control of NESREA, Mr Ayuba Jacob, in an interview told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the arrest was part of the agency’s action plan against illegal wildlife trade which is a criminal offence.
Mr. Jacob warned against illegal wildlife trade in the country, vowing that NESREA would continue to apprehend those involved in such act.
The NESREA top official explained that cub lion is one of the endangered species and trading on is prohibited, both locally and internationally, as underlined in the Endangered Species Act.
“It is the mandate of the agency to enforce these provisions and the purpose of the enforcement is to protect animal species, especially those that are endangered, to prevent them from going into extinction.
“This is an international criminal offence. There is no excuse in law; the offenders are going to be charged to court.
“We are making effort to ensure that Nigeria is not disgraced before the international community, not only in this particular animal specie, but other endangered species,” he said.
Mr. Jacob insisted that the agency was committed to creating strong awareness on enforcement of regulations.
”We are using the media to create awareness regularly all over the country and this is to ensure effectiveness of the awareness.
“We normally educate people, especially hunters, on the fact that there are some animals that need to be conserved for sustainable development.
“Such animals are going in great extinct; we are not seeing them again; they have been taken away; so they are being conserved,”.
“We ensure that we list such animals to the hunters. And it’s not only animals; even some trees, such as Iroko, Mahogany and others. We call the wildlife species,’’ he said.
The director, however, appreciated the efforts of the Nigeria Police Force and the staffers of National Park Service for making it possible for the seizure of the cub and the arrest of the suspected traffickers.
He added that the agency would continue to work with other relevant agencies to ensure that those engaging in the act were apprehended.
Jacob said that Nigeria was a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
“We have the National Environmental Protection of Endangered Species in International Trade, Regulation 2011 and the Endangered Species Control of International Trade and Traffic, (Amendment) Act, 2016,” he said.
The cub lion had been handed over to the national park service by NESREA.