By Victor Uzoho
To mark the 2022 World Pangolin Day, conservationists have called on communities to get involved in the fight to tackle the illegal trade of pangolin in Nigeria.
The experts, who spoke at an event organised by the Pangolin Conservation Guild Nigeria, in collaboration with the US Consulate in Lagos, said the country cannot make substantial progress in its fight without community action.
The Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, represented by the Director-General, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Aliyu Jauro, said achieving sustainability without community action is a challenge to sustainable wildlife resources.
Ikeazor said the Ministry is committed to ensuring environmental protection, natural resources conservation, and sustainable development, adding that Nigeria will soon sign a Cooperation Framework Agreement on Trans-boundary Ecosystem Conservation and Sustainable Management of Forestry and Wildlife Resources with Cameroun.
Also speaking, the Conservator-General, National Park Service, Ibrahim Gori, said President Buhari recently approved the establishment of 10 new national parks to enhance efforts and commitment to tackling illegal wildlife trade in the country.
He described the theme for the 2022 World Pangolin Day as apt, especially as the conservation of any animal species, including the pangolins, is impossible without the cooperation of the community where these species are found.
Nigeria will soon sign a Cooperation Framework Agreement on Trans-boundary Ecosystem Conservation and Sustainable Management of Forestry and Wildlife Resources with Cameroun.
On his part, the Chairman, Pangolin Conservation Guild Nigeria, Olajumoke Morenikeji, noted that pangolins are the most smuggled mammal in the world because of their meat and scales.
She said: “Unrestricted poaching, hunting, and trafficking of pangolins can lead to the extinction of the only mammals with scales as seen in Asia. To solve this problem, our existing conservation laws in the country should be amended and better enforced, to discourage hunting and poaching of pangolins and other wildlife animals.”
Commenting, Jennie Foltz, from the Department of Public Affairs, US Consulate, said the joint project between the Embassy and the Pangolin Conservation Guild is focused on promoting advocacy and awareness, and curbing the threats from pangolin trafficking on the environment and human health.
She said the US Mission to Nigeria, the Embassy in Abuja, and the Consulate in Lagos, will work closely with Nigerian authorities to train enforcement agencies on how to identify traffickers of pangolin meat and scales.
She hailed community advocacy efforts at the grassroots and renewed commitment by the Nigerian government to wildlife protection.
Speaking on the importance of pangolins, Jauro said various studies have shown that a pangolin can protect an area of forest as large as a football field from termite destruction while enabling forest to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and to produce oxygen (O2).