The officials of the Kick Against Indsciple (KAI), handing over the sea turtle to the General Manager, Dr Dolapo Fasawe
.Calls for protection of wildlife population, reserved areas
.As illegal poachers risk N5m fine or 1 yr jail term
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
The Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, LASEPA, has rescued a sea turtle from an illegal poacher, one Isiaka Muhammed, who was arrested by the officials of the Kick against Indiscipline, KAI, in Eti-Osa zone of Lagos State, on Thursday.
This came as the agency called for collective support against unlawful trade of wildlife, hunting and possession of wildlife parts in order to sustain the ecological balance and prevent the extinction of some special animal species and plants.
LASEPA, General Manager, Dr Dolapo Fasawe, expressed concern that ignorance of the general public to the benefits of wildlife is contributing highly to the rate of unchecked illicit trade of the endangered species by few selfish people against the general interest of all.
According to Fasawe: “Our awareness advocacy recently paid off, as the officials of the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) Eti-Osa Zone professionally arrested one Muhammad, who confessed to the hunting of sea animals at the ocean and selling to awaiting customers.
“The sea animal was recovered and later released back home into the ocean at oniru beaches in the presence of our natural resource protection team.”
She stressed that the laws covering the preservation and conservation of wildlife in Nigeria are largely enshrined in two sets of Acts, namely: The Nigerian Endangered Species Act (Control of International Trade and Traffic) Act, Decree 11 of the 1985 Constitution and Section 20 of the National Parks Service Act.
Fasawe, added that the extant laws in principle regulate the hunting, raring and trade of animals, as well as set up the various game reserves currently in Nigeria, including the Yankari, and Borgu game reserves, Okomu and Old Oyo National Parks, among others.
She said:” Lagos State is a largely urban setting with the fastest growing population in Africa. The per capita needs such as housing, industrialization, recreational centres and other amenities pose danger to existence of some special animals and plants with limited availability of land for conservation activities”.
The agency listed the green turtle, African savanna elephant, western gorilla, white-bellied pangolin, black rhino and grey parrots as endangered species facing varying threats as a result of unlawful sales, habitat destruction, fashion trend, domestication amongst others.
Fasawe noted that tree plants such as sandbox trees, pine trees, anta roots, cabbage trees, African mahogany and stool wood are categorized as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to overexploitation and medicinal relevance.
“Unlike in the past, the population is more aware of the dangers inherent in the extinction of conservation wildlife and destruction of protected reserved ecological areas and have been advised to report incidents of poaching or illegal trade to the appropriate authorities for action,” she added.
LASEPA boss, however, stressed that campaigns against the open market sale of special animals and plants and clamour for self-regulation and discipline against the use of force have been intensified.
“The existing laws allow for a fine of N5 million or one-year jail term for the illicit trade of endangered animals in Nigeria,” Fasawe stated.
Fasawe however, stressed that LASEPA has been striving to maintain balance by diligently monitoring the effects of the undesirable activities on the environment and also protects native wildlife population by insisting on a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as a mandatory requirement before the commencement of any projects, in a bid to salvage comfort zone.
As a port city, the LASEPA boss maintained that Lagos is vulnerable to illicit trade of the treasured species, hence, the agency embarked on aggressive advocacy, improved surveillance and monitoring activities.
“It is worthy of note that peculiarities of wildlife conservation and management require all three levels of government to clearly map and detail policies to prevent trafficking of these precious species through various airports and seaports across the state,
“Therefore, the need to create several layers of policies and checks to protect our precious biodiversity and also ensure that people act responsibly by totally avoiding poaching, unhealthy gaming and habitation destruction, through, bush burning, deforestation.
“To achieve the Lagos of our dreams, LASEPA remains committed to ensuring fair and responsible use of the environment in the State, by harmoniously working in relationship with other relevant MDAs such as the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Ministry of Agriculture, LASPARK and Ministry of Health to build a holistic framework by which we can adequately protect the precious flora and fauna in Lagos.”
She further stated that LASEPA has improved its baseline data collection, identification of endangered animal species and protected areas, botanical tagging of special trees/plants in addition to strengthening the policies at state and local levels.