By Gift Eguavoen
As part of intensified efforts to curb illegal wildlife trade and indiscriminate killings of animals, the federal government has destroyed a total of 2.5 tonnes of ivories and elephant tusks specimens in Abuja.
The destruction of the specimens which was done under the watch of the ministry of Environment with the support of the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI) African Fund, the US Embassy, United Nation Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Wild African Fund, is reportedly in line with the administrations vision to sustainably deploy and utilise Nigeria resources for development
Speaking at the public disposal of confiscated wildlife stockpile at Julius Berger Onex Yard in Abuja, Minister of State for Environment, Iziaq Salako, said Nigeria remain fully committed to the fight against wildlife crime and will continue to honour all international obligations to protect the biodiversity.
According to him, the confiscated wildlife stockpiles under the custody of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) were destroyed in line with the mandate of the agency.
“The Agency since its’ establishment in 2007 has continued to be pragmatic in its efforts towards ensuring the protection of Nigeria’s biodiversity and fulfilling its obligations in enforcing the provision of conservation related multilateral environmental Conventions such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) amongst others,” the minister said.
He recalled that Nigeria was suspended from CITES trade because of increase in illegal wildlife trade and lack of adequate enforcement, adding that the suspension was later lifted by CITES Secretariat in 2011.
He regretted that despite efforts and years of continuous public outreach and engagements to combat Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT), demand for wild animal’s parts and derivatives persists with a surge in black markets for sale of illegally acquired wildlife parts. He noted that the impact of such demand has been aggravated by the globalization of the world economy.
He said, “Unfortunately, Nigeria has been identified as a major transit hub for this illegal wildlife trafficking due to the porous nature of its international borders. Research has also revealed that there are four poaching hubs which are: Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Burkina-Faso and Ghana, with Nigeria having several unconfirmed transportation routes, where buses, trucks and canoes are being used to transport these illegally acquired wildlife specimen to other parts of the world.”
He however, noted that over the years, a large quantity of seized and confiscated ivory and non-ivory products of wildlife have been achieved through collaboration with government and non-governmental bodies.
On the destruction of the specimens, the minister explained that the accumulated confiscated wildlife specimen has been safely stored and documented by NESREA in its Temporary Holding Facilities for some time now.
He added that “while there is the need to create more space in the holding facilities for safe keep of future seizures, many of these specimens have long been in the storerooms and their viability can no longer be ascertained, thus the need to also avoid contracting and spreading of zoonotic diseases by the managers of the storerooms.”
He added that it is also imperative that the country continue to send out strong and unambiguous signal of non-tolerance to illegal wildlife trade.