Embarks on joint operations with police to stop trade
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, NAQS, Wednesday, expressed concern over rising illicit trade in donkey skin across the country.
This was made known in a statement signed by the Head of Media, Communications and Strategies, NAQS, Dr. Gozie Nwodo, where the Director-General, NAQS, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, said Nigeria is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, therefore Nigeria is obligated to institute all reasonable safeguards to protect the surviving breeds of donkeys within her borders from the possible threat of biodiversity loss and extinction.
According to Isegbe the global population of donkeys has suffered a collapse over the past decade including the impact of climate change is projected to aggravate their depletion, hence conservationist efforts to promote their welfare are required urgently.
He also disclosed that in line with this dangerous trend, NAQS recently assessed the risk environment Nigerian donkeys find themselves brought about a concern to protect them, which the service tabled its findings and made recommendations on the developmental needs of donkeys in 2017 before the National Council of Agriculture, is the highest policy-making body on agriculture in the country. “It was on the basis of this report that the government designated donkey skin an export prohibition list item.”
The statement reads in part, “The spate of mounting demands for donkey skins has fostered a ravenous underground market for the product, resulting in a relentless open season on the donkey population.
“Sensible and critical to find the sweet spot between the extremes of doctrinaire preservation of donkeys, which is ideal but impracticable and the unregulated, free-for-all exploitation of the donkeys which is profligate and irresponsible.
“This is a delicate balancing act that calls for the structuring and standardization of the value chain in other to maintain and restock the national herd population of donkeys by improved breeding, ranching, and other innovative ways.
“Donkeys are globally recognized as an endangered species. Nigeria is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The country is, therefore, obligated to institute all reasonable safeguards to protect the surviving breeds of donkeys within her borders from the possible threat of biodiversity loss and extinction.”
According to NAQS the approach to curtail the bad business is placing value and viability on Nigerian donkeys, which requires formalizing the export trade in donkey skins, setting the code for the management of the chain of custody and ensuring that traceability is obtainable at all points and from all angles of human interaction with donkeys. “The Quarantine Service will engage all stakeholders as much as possible to achieve these fundamentals in order to make the export trade in donkey skin advantageous for everybody, including generations unborn.”
The statement also added that Head of Animal Quarantine Department, NAQS, Dr. Abidodun Akinjo, the illicit trade, and the transaction is most times done afoot, which foreigners were sponsoring the nefarious act.
“Despite the prohibition, we noticed that there were considerable donkey skin transactions afoot. In the past three months, we have worked hard to disorient the network behind this illicit activity.
“We found out that foreign nationals were inducing and instigating this wanton depopulation of Nigerian donkeys. Donkey skins are the highly prized raw material in Asia.
“Knowing that Nigeria has good donkey numbers, they have spent time and resources to cultivate a loyal supply network which makes the overkill and delivers the donkey skin.
“The sole interest of the donkey skin dealers is instant profiteering. Hence, they do not spare a thought beyond the exchange of money for donkey skin. Neither do they care about breeding donkeys to maintain the carrying capacity of the animals to ensure the perpetuity of the goose that lays the golden eggs.
“The sourcing, transportation, slaughtering, and flaying of the donkeys for export of its hide are dismal and unsafe. They are often conducted in ways that constitute environmental hazard and danger to public health.
“That is why the NAQS is embarking on joint special operations with the police across the country and at all interstate control posts to checkmate export-bound stockpiling of donkey skin”, Akinjo said.