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Banditry, grazing, wildlife trafficking threaten conservation in Nigeria – CG B

Conservation of Nigeria’s richly endowed biodiversity is being threatened by many factors, most of which constitute crimes against the environment, according to the Conservator General,…

Conservation of Nigeria’s richly endowed biodiversity is being threatened by many factors, most of which constitute crimes against the environment, according to the Conservator General, National Parks Service, Dr. Ibrahim Goni.

Delivering his end of year scorecard to journalists in Abuja recently, the conservator general said banditry, grazing, and wildlife, trafficking, logging, illegal mining in and around the seven national parks in Nigeria have proven to pose serious threat to conservation efforts by the authorities in the year 2023.

The seven national parks are: Chad Basin National Park (Borno and Yobe states), Cross River National Park (Cross River State), Gashaka Gumti National Park (Taraba and Adamawa states), Kainji Lake National Park (Niger and Kwara states),  Kamuku National Park (Kaduna State), Okomu National Park (Edo State) and Old Oyo National Park (Oyo State).

Goni said 646 arrests were made across the national parks, with 222 grazers, 131 loggers, 44 hunters and 249 others.

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He said, “These arrests were made in all the national parks, with Gashaka-Gumti recording the highest number of arrests.

“In relation to banditry incidents, 37 suspects were apprehended in connection with mining/banditry in Old Oyo National Park, while Kainji Lake National Park arrested 3 suspected bandits and neutralised five others. Four victims were rescued during these operations, and various items such as motorcycles, phones, and machetes were recovered.”

The conservator general added that some of the suspects have been prosecuted, with 161 suspects convicted, 215 fined, 119 warned and acquitted, while 151 cases are pending.

“Cross River and Gashaka-Gumti National Parks recorded the highest number of convictions,” he said.

He, however, said despite the challenges, the service is striving to protect the country’s natural resources, especially as climate change impacts are becoming more extreme and catastrophic on the Nigerian environment.

He reiterated that the service will continue to improve on its surveillance to protect the parks and its visitors especially during this yuletide.

Goni, therefore, encouraged tourists and fun-seekers to visit the parks nearest to them as they celebrate Christmas and New Year and experience the wonders of nature.

He said the service, as a paramilitary organisation, will continue to take steps to keep the national parks safe and free of criminals.

Goni, however, expressed sadness that in-spite of the plethora of resources, unique features and the enormous potential that abound in the park, activities of criminals are hindering the harnessing of such potentials for national development; stressing that the parks play immense roles in medicine, research, education, agriculture, tourism, spiritualism and are critical components in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 7 (affordable and clean energy) and 13 (climate action).

“The Park possesses great potential to enhance the country’s GDP through tourism, but it is sad that the park, like many other aspects of our national life are faced with the annoying challenges of these criminals”.

He called on all Nigerians to be vigilant, even as they celebrate, and also help the security agencies in their efforts to keep our country safe.

“The service cannot tackle this menace alone, hence, the need to collaborate with well meaning Nigerians in protecting our parks.

“As we celebrate this Christmas and New Year, if you see something suspicious please say something, talk to the nearest security agent near you.

“We must stem the tide of insecurity in our National Parks and guarantee the protection and preservation of our natural heritage,” he said.

Stressing the economic value of the parks, he said the service has generated a total of N83,233,397.00  from January to November across the parks.

Goni said, “This revenue was derived from various sources, including ecotourism, compoundment, compensation, and others.”

He also said, determined to address the  conservation challenges of the parks, the service has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with five organisations, which  aim to support and strengthen the capacities of the National Park Service.

The organisations include the Safe Nature and Humanity Club, Sayari Dunia Sustainable Tourism Foundation, West African Conservation Network, and Sterling Oil Exploration & Energy Production Co. Ltd.

He further said the 10 new parks approved by the former President, Muhammadu Buhari, in November 2020  to be established across the country are being gazetted by the Federal Ministry of Justice and they would commence operations in 2024.

The 10 additional national parks are: Allawa National Park in Niger State, Apoi and Edumenum National Parks in Bayelsa State,  Falgore National Park in Kano State,

Hadejia Wetlands National Park in Jigawa State,  Kampe National Park in Kwara State,  Kogo National Park in Katsina State,  Marhai National Park in Nasarawa State, Oba Hills National Park in Osun State and  Pandam National Park in Plateau State.

FG will not condone dastardly acts against wildlife – Minister

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Environment, Dr. Iziak Salako has condemned the recent illegal killings of elephants and other wildlife species across the country, saying the federal government will not condone dastard acts against wildlife.

He said the killing of two elephants by the military in Kala Balge, Borno State at the instance of a local government chairman and the killing of another elephant by a professor from the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, were condemnable acts.

The minister who addressed the media in Abuja said the ministry received similar unpleasant information on the killing of two booted eagles that migrated all the way from Europe but met their deaths in Kebbi and Sokoto states.

He said, “Efforts are being made by the ministry to retrieve the transmitters attached to these birds and return them to the researchers in Europe.

“As a ministry committed to environmental conservation and the protection of wildlife, we strongly condemn such actions that undermine the fragile balance of our ecosystem.

“The public should be aware that Nigeria is signatory to international conventions, particularly, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

“With respect to the elephant and the eagles which are categorised as endangered species of Appendix I, hunting, capturing, possessing, trading or killing of these wild species are offences that are liable to prosecution according to the CITES regulations.

“The government will not condone any such dastardly act by any persons or communities involved.”

Salako stressed that the brutal killings of the wildlife not only reflected a blatant disregard for the importance of wildlife preservation but also highlighted the urgent need for enhanced awareness and sensitisation of the public regarding the protection of natural resources.

He assured that the ministry has launched a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the tragic event involving the killing of the elephants by the local government chairman and the military to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions.

 

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