NGO Says Partnerships Key To Protecting Wildlife In Nigeria
Fabian Ekeruche, Daily Trust
March 8, 2023
The Wild Africa Fund, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has stressed
the need for partnerships to wage the war against illegal wildlife trade
and trafficking in the country.
Mr Kelechukwu Iruoma, Nigeria Representative for Wild Africa Fund, stated
this in a statement to mark the World Wildlife Day (WWD) on Friday in Lagos.
The WWD is an annual event dedicated to raise awareness on the importance
Iruoma urged the government and conservation organisations to partner to
tackle forest and wildlife crime to protect the country’s biodiversity.
According to him, Nigeria is home to some of the world’s most iconic
wildlife such as elephants, lions and gorillas.
Iruoma, however, said that illegal activities such as poaching,
deforestation and illegal wildlife trade had put these animals in danger,
thereby threatening their existence.
He added that Nigeria had also become the transit hub for the illegal trade
in ivory and pangolin scales.
Iruoma said that the 2023 WWD with the theme, “Partnerships for Wildlife,”
underscored the crucial role partnerships play in protecting and preserving
wildlife for biodiversity conservation.
He said that protecting these species and their habitats were essential not
only for their survival but for the health and well-being of the ecosystem
and the livelihoods of the host communities that depend on them.
He said that the Wild Africa Fund would remain committed to protecting
Nigeria’s wildlife stressing that this cannot be achieved independently.
“Everyone has a part to play,” Iruoma said.
Iruoma quoted Mr Peter Knights, Founder Wild Africa Fund, as saying that
all hands must be on deck to fight illegal wildlife trade in Nigeria.
“By partnering with the government, international and local NGOs, media,
and local communities, we can achieve greater impact and ensure a brighter
future for wildlife in Africa and beyond.”
“Collaboration is the best hope that we have of ensuring that Nigeria’s
natural resources are protected for future generations,
“Through our work with local communities, governments, and other
conservation organisations, we are making strides toward a future where
humans and wildlife can thrive together.
“We applaud the progress being made in Nigeria and urge everyone to join us
in the fight to protect and preserve Nigeria’s natural heritage,” Knights
Iruoma said that the Wild Africa Fund was also collaborating with the
Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Africa Nature Investors
Foundation (ANI) with support from the UK Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge
He said the fund was also in collaboration with the U.S. Bureau of
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) to support the
Nigerian government to update its wildlife laws and combat illegal wildlife
“There has been progress with this as the Endangered Species Conservation
and Protection Bill passed its first reading in the Federal House of
Representatives in February 2023.
“This is a demonstration that the organisations and government are
commitment to wildlife conservation,” Iruoma said.
Iruoma quoted the EIA as saying that it was proud of its long-standing
partnerships with government agencies, Civil Society Organisations, and
public institutions such as the financial and banking sectors that have a
vital role to play in tackling wildlife trafficking.
Justin Gosling, the EIA’s Senior Project Coordinator – Securing Criminal
Justice, commended Nigeria for taking decisive steps to improve its law
enforcement and criminal justice.
“Nigeria is taking decisive steps to improve its law enforcement and
criminal justice response to wildlife crime which, if sustained, will have
a lasting impact across the continent, ensuring a future for all species
affected by wildlife and forest crime,” Gosling said.
Iruoma also quoted Tunde Morakinyo, ANI’s Executive Director, as saying
that the ANI was working to protect Nigeria’s national parks and forest
Morakinyo, however, noted that protection in the field was not enough
without addressing the wider legislative context of the country.
“This new legislation will be critical to enabling Nigeria to decisively
tackle the illegal trade in wildlife and will demonstrate to the world that
the country can be a leader on the African continent for an issue that
affects all Nigerians and indeed all of us as human beings,” he said
Iruoma said the fund was also collaborating with the Amo Farm Sieberer
Hatchery Ltd. to supply Noiler chickens to hunters and bush meat sellers in
Lagos to end the sale of pangolins and other wildlife in the markets as an
alternative to illegal bush meat.
He said the fund had fostered robust partnership with the media to improve
the coverage of wildlife conservation issues, to change the attitude of
people toward protecting and promoting wildlife.
He added that the media had played a significant role in conservation
awareness and education.