Abuja – An official of the National Park Services, Abuja has decried Nigerians penchant for “bush meat,’’ saying this is partly responsible for the decline in wildlife-animals in the country.
Dr Okeyoyin Agboola, the Assistant Conservator-General in charge of Planning, Research and ICT, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja said animal should be preserved.
According to him, Nigeria stands to benefit immensely from available wild animals and plants in the country if they are preserved and protected.
He noted that there were some countries in Africa without crude oil but rake in huge foreign exchange from wildlife through tourism.
Agboola named the countries as Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“Nigeria too can benefit from it – wildlife.
“The problem with us in Nigeria is that everything – animal is bush meat. Those countries that we are talking about they eat bush meat but they eat in a rational way.
“If you see elephant today, to an average person in Nigeria, it is bush meat, if you see buffalo, this is bush meat. People do not talk about their other value.
“Nigeria stands to gain a lot economically from wildlife if we are able to manage them in a way that the present generation will benefit from it, as well as generation yet unborn.
“We stand to benefit economically, people will be coming in hundreds and thousands as tourists to this nation because some of the developed countries do not have this resources again,’’ Agboola.
He stressed that the few wildlife that were still available in the country must be protected and managed in a way to “attract foreign visitors.’’
The assistant conservator-general listed some of the endangered in the country as elephant, buffalo, chimpanzee, porcupine and pangolin.
On how the park is doing to protect the endangered species, Agboola said through its “Conservation Education Unit,’’ it had established conservation club in some schools to inculcate conservation ethics in students.
“The plan is that the children will now train and educate their parents. There is also community outreach. Through it we target the adult.
“Through the outreach, we educate the people and support them where necessary because if you say the people should not hunt wildlife, people want better alternative,’’ he said.
According to Agboola, through the community outreach the national park provides alternative for the people so that they will not go and hunt in our park.
“We have another thing called vocational training. We provide vocational training for poachers and through that we are able to win them,’’ he said.
Also, Dr Andrew Dunn, Country Director, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Nigeria, described the status of wildlife in the country as “not too good.’’
“There is none left outside the national parks and game reserves. There is very little left now. We still have some elephants and gorillas but they are only found in protected areas,’’ Dunn said.
He attributed the decline in wildlife in the country to increase in population, habitat destruction and high demand for bush meat, among others.
Dunn called on the government to support the national park service to protect the endangered species and also stressed the need to strengthen rangers to enable them protect the animals against poaching.
According to him, wildlife is not really taken serious in Nigeria like Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The News Agency of Niger (NAN) reports that the UN General Assembly (UNGA) declares March 3 every year as “Wildlife Day’’ to raise awareness on wildlife and endangered species – animals and plants.
The theme for the 2016 wildlife day is: “The future of wildlife is in our hands.’’ (NAN)