The Nigerian Conservation Foun-dation, NCF, Nigeria’s foremost NGO championing the conservation of the environment and wildlife, has reiterated threat to predators particularly big cats as a result of human activities, cautioning that wildlife must be conserved for the survival of the species.
Making this known at the just-concluded World Wildlife Day 2018 with the theme: Big cats – predators under threat, NCF said this year’s theme was a step further from last year’s theme: Listen to the Young Voices, as a way to ensure the realisation of CITES objective in the 182-member states of the United Nations, on the need to urgently rise to the demands of conserving all forms of wildlife especially the big predators which are now globally threatened, with their condition in Nigeria even more dire.
In a statement by the conservation body, “With reference to the 2016 World Environment Day, Amina Mohammed, who until her recent UN appointment was the Minister of Environment, said the status of wildlife in the country leaves much to be desired, as the rate of depletion of the population of animals like the elephants, leopards, giraffes and crocodiles among others, is frightening.
“Today, I know that if somebody says, what is really the status or figures for wildlife in Nigeria? I am not sure I can tell you as the Minister of Environment. “And if I am going to say something, it is probably 10 years old in terms of its information and data.”
The statement added that it is almost two years since Amina Mohammed promised that the government would develop the capacity to know what the baseline was, what animal was where, which was endangered, what needed to be done to protect those animals and to increase their population in Nigeria for the sake of the wildlife.
“For long, Nigeria has rested on an erroneous notion that our wild animals were plentiful and not under any threat of extinction. However, following the recent publication of the IUCN red list of globally threatened species which revealed that 148 animals and 146 plant species found in Nigeria were threatened at various degrees including some species near extinction, we hope it is not too late to right the wrongs.
“Out of the very large land mass that Nigeria boasts of, we are not assured of the functionality of our seven National Parks. We are not sure they really are a refuge for what we have left of our wildlife population, just as we are yet to see clear prioritization of our biodiversity and wildlife heritage by the government at all levels in Nigeria.
“Human activities like hunting, grazing, land deforestation, mining, infrastructural construction, aerodromes, power lines, and related activities have destroyed our wildlife flora and fauna than natural factors like climate change and fire occurrences by over 40 per cent in the last 25 years. Another adjoining factor is that occupants of host communities earmarked as protected areas see their surrounding areas as traditional hunting grounds.
“We must take a cue from smaller countries like Gabon with 13 well-managed national parks, Egypt with 25 national parks and Kenya with 23 national parks aside game reserves, wildlife sanctuary and other forms of protected areas in countries like Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania and Madagascar.
“Sadly, fewer than 50 lions remain in Nigeria while the global value of illegal wildlife trade is soaring beyond 50 – 150 billion USD per year. Conversely, less than 7,100 cheetahs remain in the wild, globally. These and many more statistics of the state of wildlife suggest that the time for urgent action is now!
The Federal Ministry of Environment and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, must create an operational synergy between associated government and non-government stakeholders”, NCF noted.