From Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) says that it has destroyed 1,500 pieces of outbound donkey skin estimated at N67 million, adding that the action was taken to tackle the illicit exploitation of donkeys in the country and to stimulate sustainable prosperity of donkey skin.
NAQS Director of Operations and Assistant Comptroller General of Quarantine Dr Sunday Audu, in a statement signed by the Head, Media, Communication and Strategy, Chigozie Nwodo, explained that the agency impounded the cache of donkey skin during several rounds of raids on hideouts used to store donkey skin ready to be trafficked out of Nigeria.
‘The Agency has ramped up its intelligence gathering and surveillance of late because the individuals behind the unabated onslaught on donkeys in Nigeria have escalated their aggression,’ the statement read.
‘The material value of donkey skin is on the rise because it is becoming difficult to source. That has become an incentive for the dealers in this contraband product to go all out against live donkeys.’
Dr Audu maintained that government was not, in any way, opposed to trading in donkey skin but that the agency was against the ceaseless exploitation of donkeys without restocking; a practice that, if not checked, would drive the endangered species to extinction.
He regretted that stakeholders in the donkey value chain have yet to coalesce around the blueprint laid out by the Agency that prioritizes the health and welfare of the animals and the reduction of the impact of population threats on their existence.
He mentioned that trading in donkey skin must be based on a set of rules that has sustainability as its centerpiece.
He pointed out that exploiting the donkeys without a long term view is like killing the goose that lays the golden egg, and that it will decimate the donkeys which yield the skin and close the donkey business permanently.
According to him, the principled stance of NAQS is that the conservation and management of Nigerian donkeys and the exploitation of donkeys as a business need not be a zero sum game.
‘The Agency wants the consideration of the health and welfare of the animals to complement and support the growth and development of the donkey value chain now and in the future,’ he added.
He renewed the Agency’s call for stakeholders to stop colluding with bounty hunters from Asia and enabling the wanton depopulation of Nigerian donkeys.
In addition, he invited dealers in the commodity and enthusiasts to seek guidance from NAQS on how to do the business and create value without running afoul of the law.