The Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki has called on stakeholders to explore untapped opportunities in the wildlife and ecotourism sub-sector for economic prosperity and development of the country.
Obaseki was speaking on the commemoration of this year’s World Wildlife Day, celebrated on March 3 every year by the United Nations (UN) and its agencies.
With the theme, ‘Sustaining all life on Earth’, Obaseki said the necessity for leisure and finding solutions to environmental challenges, as well as seeking alternative sources of income have compelled most developed and developing economies to explore, invest in and utilise the sector for economic gains.
Obaseki said: “The animals and plants that live in the wild have an intrinsic value and contribute to the ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic aspects of human well-being and to sustainable development.
“This day, which is aimed at raising awareness of the multitude of benefits that their conservation provides to people, reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime and human-induced reduction of species, which have wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts.
“Other nations have found that ecotourism helps in diversifying their economies, constituting a stabilising force for government revenues and reducing reliance on the sale of natural resources, hence there is the need for all stakeholders in the country to collaborate with the federal and state governments to explore economic opportunities in this sub-sector amidst the continued decline in oil prices”
The governor, however, reaffirmed the state government’s readiness to support wildlife conservation and promote ecotourism.
Obaseki added, “We are reforming the way people mine solid minerals, use forest resources and marine life in Edo State in line with the thrust of our policy on sustainable ecosystem management, designed to protect the environment from further abuse and over-exploitation of its resources.
“Shortly after assuming office, we embarked on an aerial survey of the state and found very disturbing images of abuse of natural water bodies, some of which have been turned into receptacles of industrial and domestic wastes, with a huge negative impact on aquatic organisms. Our forest and land resources were also not spared.”
“Our aerial tour of the state was an eye-opener and informed most of the decisions we have taken in the environment sector in recent times, to check further threat to our flora and fauna,” he added.
According to the UN, the World Wildlife Day was proclaimed to be marked on March 3, which is the day of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973, which plays an important role in ensuring that international trade does not threaten the species’ survival.