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
Federal Ministry of Environment