As the world is faced with the critical challenge of driving Pangolin into extinction through Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT), the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), in collaboration with Lagos Urban Forest Animal Sanctuary Initiative (LUFASI) and Saint Marks Animal Rescue Foundation (SMARF) declared their plans and mission in promoting the conservation of Pangolin species in Nigeria.
The declaration to combat IWT by the NGOs was made during the commemoration of the World Pangolin Day on Sunday, 21st March, 2021 at the Lufasi Park, Eti-Osa, Lagos.
Dr. Mark Ofua, CEO of SMARF in his welcome address said that it will delight him if people and government can pay more attention into the major issue driving pangolins into extinction.
In his presentation titled “Biodiversity and us”, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, Chairman of LUFASI said that the illegal and poorly regulated wildlife trade is causing great damage to the society and urged all concerned to take drastic action in salvaging the environment from total destruction.
While making a presentation on the theme “Pangolin conservation: a race to save the species”, Dr. Joseph Onoja, Director of Technical Programmes, NCF said that God-given nature of Pangolin makes the animal a very unique animal species among mammals. “It has been shown that one of its kind can protect an area of forest as large as 31 football fields from termite destruction, enabling forests to absorb carnondioxide and producing oxygen,” He said.
In his remarks, the British Deputy High Commissioner, His Excellency, Mr. Ben Lewellyn Jones said that ant-eating nature of pangolins among other functions they do in the ecosystem requires that “All of us have the responsibility to protect them,’’
In her statement, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Lagos State, Mrs. Belinda Ronke Odeneye, represented by Mr. Samuel Adeola said that Lagos State Government is committed to the protection of endangered species native to the state, and efforts are being intensified in combatting IWT at identified wildlife markets. Likewise the ministry of Agriculture under whose jurisdiction LUFASI operates, represented by Mr. Austen Humpe, pledged continuing support for LUFASI objectives.
The main attraction of the day was the commissioning of a Pangolin Soft Release Centre. Also present at the event were Mr. Peter Thomas, Deputy Head of Mission, British High Commission, Lagos; Yeye Agnes Sobajo; Dr. Eloka Chukwuemeka; Mrs. Faith Ufuoma Ofua; Dr. Sola Ogunsuyi; Mrs. Kofo Adeleke; Alashe Kosoko; Mr. Linus Unah of WildAid; representatives of National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Nigerian Environmental Society (NES), Omu Resort among others.