Sharon O. Ikeazor
Sharon O. Ikeazor
Wildlife Day: Minister urges Nigerians to protect Species,Natures
 As Nigeria joins the rest of the World to mark the 2020 World Wildlife Day, the HonourableMinister of State, Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor, Esq. has called on Nigerians to protectwildlife   and plant species to support  the  Federal   Government’s   effort  at   tackling  illegal wildlife trade across  international   ports  and border  posts of  the  country  in line  with  theConvention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).The World Wildlife Day (WWD) celebrated annually is one of  the most important globalannual event dedicated to/wildlife and its protection. It is a day that stimulates awareness onWildlife Conservation and arouses political will, attention, and public action. The theme forthis year is: “Sustaining all life on Earth”.   Ikeazor stated that the theme is timely and all-encompassing as biodiversity is critically  endangered and there is a need to rescue thesenatural resources and the planet at large.She restates the Federal Government readiness to give maximum support for the protection ofwildlife   and   its   sustainability   as   Nigeria   is   a   signatory   to   a   number   of   treaties   on   theconservation of Endangered Species.   While reiterating Nigeria’s commitment to the fightagainst illegal wildlife trade, she noted that Nigeria joined other 182 nations to sign and ratifythe   International   CITES   Convention   in   1974,   and   to   give   credence   to   this   Convention,Nigeria promulgated the Endangered Species Decree No. 11 in 1985, which is now enactedas Endangered Species Act 2016. Chief Ikeazor represented by the Permanent Secretary of Environment, Dr. Wadinga Bakaridisclosed that  Nigeria is endowed with enormous biodiversity resources of both plant andanimal   species.   ‘‘There   are   about   7,895   plant   species   and   over   22,000   vertebrate   andinvertebrate species which include; insects, fish, birds and mammals. Thus showing the depthof natural resources found within the geographical boundary of the country’’. The effective  management  of  these  enormous resources  in  actualizing  the United  NationSustainable Development Goals calls for the celebration of the World Wildlife Day.   Shehowever reiterates that this is not a day to just dine and wine but rather, it’s time to check andbalance the success recorded in the fight against wildlife crimes and also improve awarenesson the threat of the unsustainable harvest of our wildlife resources.
Over the years, Nigeria has been recognized as a transit route by major wildlife traffickers inthe perpetration of their illegal crimes. These traffickers according to her, harvest enormouswildlife resources such as Elephant tusks, Pangolin scales, Hippopotamus hooves and theirderivatives   in   the   Natural   Reserves   of   many   East   African   countries   such   as   Kenya,Cameroun, Tanzania etc. and transit them through our Country’s porous borders.
However, to curb  this   trend,   the   Nigeria CITES   Management   Authority   form   a   Joint  Task   Force   inCombatting Illegal Trade of Wildlife Resources with several Agencies such as the Police(Interpol unit), Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, NESREA, FAAN,Ministry   of   Justice   and   many   more   through   which   proper   awareness,   dissemination   andexchange of information is carried out resulting in strong inter- agency collaboration to curbthe menace of wildlife trafficking in the Country.
This   inter-agencies   collaborations   according   to   her,   resulted   in   the   arrest,   seizure   andsubsequent prosecution of wildlife traffickers in their numbers at several locations within thecountry with the Nigerian Customs Services in 2019, intercepted wildlife resources worthover10 million naira.Ikeazor reaffirmed the ministry’s role as focal point of CITES implementation in Nigeria andits commitment to conserve wild species which according to her were now almost driven intoextinction due to over exploitation, habitat change and illicit trafficking. She, however, addedthat it is the desire of the ministry to continue to create awareness on large scale knowingfully well  that  solving  environmental   issues   will   require   truly   comprehensive   action   andresponse   at   the   local   and   international   levels,   as   the   illegal   trade   in   wildlife   resourcestranscend borders.In Nigeria, efforts have been made with considerable successes towards securing the survivalof endangered species of wild fauna and flora through the establishment of National Parksacross the country in an effort to safeguard the surviving endangered species, she added thatformation of Joint Task Force in Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade in Nigeria, training ofJudges specialized in  wildlife related matters, with  vigorous awareness  and re-orientationamong the citizenry and the proposed drive to include wildlife course in the Para-militarytraining centers. Ikeazor called for attitudinal change and advocacy to save the environmentand its endangered species.
Saghir el Mohammed
Director Press
Federal Ministry of Environment