Samuel Bello, Abuja
Last week, the Federal Ministry of Environment, celebrated the 2019 World Wildlife Day in Abuja. The event which was themed ‘Life Below Water: For People and Planet’ was held amidst glamour and glitz as it was hosted by the federal department of forestry and the Nigerian National Park Service (NNPS).
Activities arranged by the ministry that made the event positive and interesting for guests and environmental experts included the participation of over 40 secondary school students from various schools around Abuja, learning to understand the importance of wildlife and God-given resources that exists below water. There were also quiz competitions, Drama presentation, presentation of gifts for the students and enough edibles for everyone.
During an interaction with DailySun, Minister of Environment, said the government is thoroughly guided by the 2016-2020 Environment Sector Strategic Plan, which is committed to unlocking the potential of life below water for sustainable economic growth.
“The over-arching objective of these programmes is to build long term resilience that generates business and economic opportunities while providing social benefits as well as ensuring environmental sustainability. As part of increasing our focus on life below water, Nigeria would soon be one of the countries in the world with a Marine National Park to be established in the Niger Delta.
Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the ministry, Mallam Muazu Mohammed, said the volume of international trade in fish and fisheries products in recent times has tremendously increased due to population upsurge with corresponding pressure on natural fisheries resources.
Mohammed said, “Illegal trade on endangered species if not checked would threaten many species to extinction. The effect of this unsustainable practices have effects not only on stocks but the entire ecosystem and ultimately the livelihood of humanity. It requires a collective fight at national, regional and international levels.
“Consequently illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has become the practice of fishermen in many countries and especially in developed countries with its attendant challenges. The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture which is working in tandem with the objectives of CITES is ensuring that wild fauna and flora are sustainably exploited and international trade is carried out in a responsible manner.
“Major species recognized and classified to be under threat from fishing mortality and require serious and urgent management and regulatory measures to stem this ugly tide include sawfish and sturgeon which are facing serious threats from injuries, saw removal and egg extraction in case of the sturgeon.
“At national level, the department also collaborates and cooperates with different stakeholders such as relevant MDA’s, the Nigerian Customs, Police, traders, wholesalers, transport, institutions and agencies.”
Communications Director of Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI), Barnaby Phillips, said “there has been elephant tusks and other illegal wildlife products, pangolin scales of course, which have been transited through Nigeria and in the overwhelming cases, these are not animals that originate from Nigeria.
“I know more about elephants and in that case I think that most of these tusks are coming from nearby countries particularly countries in Central Africa. Cameroon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad and criminal gods who are using Nigeria as an exit routes for these illegal products which invariably are shipped to east Asia, particularly the Chinese market, Honk Kong, Vietnam, those are the typical destination countries.
“Historically, Nigeria had so many elephants than it does today, but ultimately, the EPI is in 19 African countries and in 19 elephant range states. Angola is a country that has huge numbers of elephants. Botswana maybe 130,000 elephants by far the most left in Africa. There are probably just over 400,000 elephants left in Africa today to put that in context.”