By Jimoh Babatunde
The management of Ogba Zoo and Nature Park, Benin City, Edo State, is pleading with the state government to check the activities of land grabbers and poachers in its efforts at resuscitating the tourism industry.
Mr. Andy Ehanire, the Chief Executive of the Zoo, speaking with Vanguard yesterday, said the zoo, designed and developed in the early 70s by then military administrator of former Bendel State, the late Brigadier-General Samuel Ogbemudia, had suffered a long period of decline and eventual collapse.
He said: “By the time of our private sector – led intervention in the year 2000, the zoo was already in the ‘mortuary’ and was almost ready to be written off the books. The extent of its abandonment and decay, notwithstanding, Ogba Zoo experienced a painful rebirth through our rescue mission, which was purely self-financing, with no support from government. “On the contrary, it is the nature of the lease agreement we hold that our private sector-led eco-tourism outfit pays rents to the government. But as challenging as reviving a moribund zoo was, there were other hidden challenges that can hardly be imagined in a sane society.”
Ehanire noted that the major challenge facing the zoo today was that of incursion by land grabbers with the support of some government officials.