James Ogunnaike – Abeokuta
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday called for concerted efforts from Nigerians in protecting wildlife, saying their existence is very important to the survival of nature.
He made the call at a breakfast meeting with members of the Pangolin Conservation Guild of Nigeria, who were at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta for the World Pangolin 2020.
The ex-President noted that most wildlife animals that could benefit Nigeria and its people have been sent into extinction through human activities.
Obasanjo, who stressed the need for Nigerians to revive some cultures that had gone into extinction, identified negligence on the part of Nigerians as part of reasons for the destruction of biodiversity.
While calling on Nigerians to preserve wildlife animals in the country rather than destroying them, he urged stakeholders in the Pangolin Conservative Guild Nigeria to continue creating awareness on the benefits of preserving wild animals.
He said: “I want to thank all of you who have taken this up. Earlier on, I had thought about part of our culture that are dying, that we need to preserve. Maybe we know what they are meant for, maybe we don’t know and it is also part of the diversity.
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“In Africa, we believe about the past, the spirit of our ancestors and we keep them because they are part of our lives, we believe in the present, that is ourselves and everything around us and we believe in future. So, the life of an African is made up of the past, the present and the future”.
“What is happening with the destruction of biodiversity is that the future is being taken away by the present and that is why it is important to preserve our future”.
“The masquerades are the past, they are the spirits of our ancestors, we are the present and we don’t want pangolin to be no more part of the future so we have to take interest in the present and the future”.
“I was shocked to find out that it is now becoming difficult to get pangolin. When I was growing up in the village, pangolins were everywhere. I asked what we can do to preserve them and they told me that they (pangolins) do not survive in captivity and I said I don’t believe that. We have to make them survive in captivity, raise them and then send them back to the field again and repopulate our forest because they are very innocuous animals, they don’t do you any harm, they are in fact timid. I don’t believe that they don’t survive in captivity because when I was growing up, we had them, we played with them. I’m happy that we are doing this and I want to assure you that all that we need to do to make this work”.
“It (biodiversity) is almost as bad as climate change and it needs to be given as much attention as climate change has been given attention and I believe this is Pangolin just happen to be one of the other endangered animals. There are a number of others, both vegetation and animals that are disappearing fast and we should stop their disappearance because the more they disappear, the more incomplete our own life and living are”.
“We have to train ourselves on how to keep them and make them survive maybe in not absolute captivity but some form of semi-range or whatever way we can keep them and then the awareness about their preservation and making the Chinese and all those people who believe that it (pangolin) can give them the power that they have should be done.
“Let us have people trained and equip them on how to raise awareness. Wherever I go now, in the villages as I go, I will tell them. Normally, we don’t believe that pangolin gives us any power, we found them friendly and innocuous and all that.”
In his address, the Chairman Pangolin Working Group in South Africa, Prof. Ray Jansen said, the pangolin is the most trafficked animal in the world.