Ikeazor: Animal poaching has put Nigeria on spotlight of wildlife crime globally


Vivian Chime, The Cable

Date Published
Sharon Ikeazor, minister of state for environment, says the rate of poaching and trading of wildlife in Nigeria has put the country on the spotlight of wildlife crime.

She said this in Lagos on Thursday at the official launch of a wildlife conservation campaign in Africa by WildAid, a non-profit wildlife conservation organisation.

She said bush-meat consumption in Nigeria poses environmental risks and is a threat to public health.

She said the president had to approve the creation of 10 national parks owing to the threat faced by the 309 threatened wildlife species like the pangolins, lions, elephants, manatees and others.

“Poaching, possessing, taking, trading and consumption of these animals have put Nigeria on the spotlight of wildlife crime,” she said.

“We are all culprits of bush-meat consumption as it is a phenomenon in both rural and urban communities, posing environmental risks and extinction of threatened species.

“In-country and transborder trafficking is quite alarming, and Nigeria has been tagged a ‘transit hub’ for this illegality.

“The phenomenon also constitutes high security risk, public health risk with the spread of zoonotic diseases such as Lassa Fever, Ebola Virus, and recently COVID-19.”

She commended the collaborative effort of WildAid in tackling illegal wildlife trade in Nigeria and restated the government’s commitment to protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of the Nigeria’ biodiversity.

On his part, Peter Knights, the president of WildAid, said there are less than 50 lions, 100 gorillas, 500 elephants and 2,300 chimpanzees remaining in the wild in Nigeria with no surviving cheetahs, rhinoceros, or giraffes.

He said Nigeria can “turn things around for wildlife and become a regional leader in wildlife protection, which can boost the economy through tourism and safeguard the Nigerian public from zoonotic diseases”.

He said WildAid aims to engage the youths and middle class in the campaign to save Nigeria’s wildlife.

In his speech, Akin Abayomi, Lagos commissioner for health, said disrupting the balance of nature has consequences like biological threats such as the Ebola virus and COVID-19.

He said if the disruption continues without a major reversal, “we are inducing an existential threat scenario”.