The Nigerian Conservation Foundation has said the country’s wildlife is under threat and called on the Federal Government to take urgent action to save the situation.
According to the foundation, for long, the country has rested on an erroneous notion that its wild animals were plentiful and not under any threat of extinction, but a recent publication of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature red list of globally threatened species has revealed that 148 animals and 146 plant species found in Nigeria are threatened at various degrees, including some species near extinction.
The NCF said human activities such as hunting, grazing, land deforestation, mining, infrastructural construction like aerodromes, power lines, and related activities had destroyed the wildlife flora and fauna than natural factors like climate change and fire occurrences by over 40 per cent in the last 25 years.
The foundation stated these in commemoration of the 2018 World Wildlife Day with the theme, ‘Big cats – predators under threat’, noting that there was the need to urgently rise to the demands of conserving all forms of wildlife, especially the big predators now globally threatened, with their condition in Nigeria even more dire.
The foundation recommended that the National Park Service should be strengthened to enhance its capacity for wildlife conservation and protection; and also increase awareness and education on the intrinsic value of wildlife to the society.
It also recommended swift and clear penalties for illegal poachers and hunters to mitigate further illegal harvesting of wildlife.
The NCF specifically decried the decline in the number of vulture in the country, adding that the bird had important contributions to human health and the economy.
The Acting Director-General, NCF, Joseph Onoja, said the decline in the number of vultures was not only exacerbated by natural or climate-induced changes, but chiefly driven by human-induced threat associated with belief-based use.
He stated that the threat associated with the 15 African-Eurasian vulture species faced with different level of conservation threat therefore needed a multi-prong approach.
According to him, vultures play a crucial role in human health and the economy as they keep the environment free of carcasses and wastes, thereby restricting the spread of diseases such as anthrax and botulism, among others.
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