Taking Action against Illegal Wildlife Trade in Africa

Thursday, 02 April 2020 12:21

 

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives through the COVID-19 pandemic and our thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones, or who are sick and we wish them a speedy recovery.“

 

Globally and particularly in Africa, illegal wildlife trade continues to be a growing multibillion-dollar business. Statistics indicate that illegal wildlife trade globally generates between $7- $23 billion annually. Additionally, it is estimated that one out of every four bird or mammal species globally is caught up in wildlife trade.

 

In Africa, it involves trade and trafficking of elephant tusks and rhino horn, pangolin scales, bush meat, tropical timber and endangered birds, including vultures. Wildlife trade is increasingly driving species to extinction, and destroying biodiversity. Moreover, wildlife trade threatens rural community livelihoods, hampers development efforts, and puts ecosystems at risk. Perhaps one of the frightening realities of this trade is the threat that it poses to the health of human beings, through spread of zoonotic diseases - diseases that jump from animals to human beings. In recent past, the world has seen the emergence of animal- borne infectious diseases such as SARS, Nipah, Ebola and Lassa Fever.

 

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc globally is suspected to have originated from a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. Already, China has taken commendable steps and banned the trade and consumption of wild animals, pending formalization of this ban into law later this year. Vietnam also followed suit, banning the trade.

 

“Wildlife trade is reaching unprecedented levels, and while efforts are being made to combat this trade, national governments, should enact effective laws that clamp down on this trade. This will go a long way in ensuring protection and conservation of species and perhaps help reduce occurrences of zoonotic diseases in the future”, notes Stoyan Nikolov, EV New LIFE project manager/BSPB.

 

Internationally, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) provides a legal framework to regulate trade in wild animals and plants. African countries party to the convention should consider mainstreaming various aspects of combating wildlife crimes, in line with CITES, into their national laws and drive strong enforcement of this legislations.

 

“Banning wildlife trade in addition to more public awareness on the impact of this trade on biodiversity and the risks that this trade poses to human health is important. As a result, decisive action to stop the trade should be taken”, notes Cloé Pourchier, Project manager of SCF.

 

“The role of national government, local communities, traditional institutions, conservation organizations, civil society organisations and businesses is critical in halting wildlife trade across the continent. Most importantly, is for authorities to implement policies, enforce enacted laws and put in place effective monitoring systems to check illegal wildlife trade across the continent. Wildlife trade transcends national boundaries; hence co-operation among countries is critical for success”, says Rebecca Garbett, Vulture Conservation Manager at BirdLife.

 

Further, is the need to raise awareness among the public about the negative impact of this trade in terms of the potential hidden risks on human health. Initially, illegal wildlife trade was criticised almost purely in terms of conservation of the species, but other considerations have arisen in the recent past including biosecurity and public health.

 

“Particularly, the main challenge is to change attitudes and beliefs, which are major drivers of wildlife trade in Africa. This will be critical in tackling this trade, especially at this period. Africa needs to be proactive, as we tackle current health challenge of the COVID 19 – pandemic, we need to forestall possible outburst of any other animal infected disease by keeping our wildlife in the wild through strong enforcement of wildlife laws and legislation”, adds Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Director General of NCF.

 

 

About BSPB

Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds/BirdLife Bulgaria is a Non-governmental organization which works for the conservation of wild birds, the areas important for them and their habitats. We defend the right of existence of wildlife and thus we contribute to the sustainable use of natural resources, as well as for the well-being of humankind. BSPB is coordination the biggest project for conservation of the Egyptian vultures in the world, which includes institutions and organisations from 14 countries spanning the Balkans, Middle East and Africa – “Egyptian vulture New LIFE” project!

 

About BirdLife

BirdLife is the world’s largest conservation partnership with over 10 million members and supporters. The partnership strives to conserve birds, their habitats, and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. https://www.birdlife.org/

 

About SCF

The Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF) was established to conserve the wildlife of the Sahara and bordering Sahelian grasslands, together with the diverse landscapes required for its survival of the region’s embattled fauna and flora. In 2004, when SCF was established, many species were threatened with extinction, several of them occupying less than 5% of their former ranges due largely to decades of overhunting. SCF efforts are currently focused on Chad and Niger and their unique but increasingly threatened desert biodiversity and habitats. Additional support goes to conservation projects and programs in Tunisia, Senegal and Morocco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NCF, Imo State Government Collaborate to Protect Wildlife in Nigeria

Tuesday, 17 March 2020 10:43

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) in collaboration with the Imo State Government, Federal Ministry of Environment and National Association of Zoos and Wildlife Parks (NAZAP) commemorates the World Wildlife Day (WWD) with the theme “Sustaining all life on earth” at Owerri, Imo State on Tuesday, 3rd March 2020.

 

The activities of the day commenced with a rally from Imo International Conference Centre to Ahiajoku Convention Centre where a reception was held. The rally, led by government officials and members of NAZAP had about fifteen secondary schools participated.

 

Mrs. Sabina Onwuchi, the Acting Permanent Secretary revealed in her introductory remark that wildlife consists of animals, birds and insects that are in their natural habitat and they are nature’s gift to mankind. She said further that “All efforts to protect wildlife (flora and fauna) should be intensified and every threat to the survival of wildlife species should be discontinued.”

 

Senator Hope Uzodinma, the Governor of Imo State, who was the Special Guest of Honour said that this year’s event presents the cogent challenge of a sober soul search on how people have related with, preserved or destroyed nature in our lifetime. He said “Habitat degradation manifests in many forms. Among them are relentless mining, both lawful and unlawful, uncontrolled logging, development of industrial plantations, highway and urban development, unbridled fuelwood exploitation and a host of other human activities.” He then promised to upgrade Imo State Zoological Garden and Wildlife Park to an international standard for ecotourism and research.

 

Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Director General of NCF represented by Mr. Stephen Aina, Coordinator Species Recovery & Conservation Programme, said in his keynote address that mankind constantly interact with nature and is surrounded by it. Therefore, the quality of human life on earth is greatly impacted by the environment and can be measured by environmental indices that are expressive of quality. Therefore human health and environmental health are synonymous. “The natural environment in its pristine state is typically peaceful and calm and this possibly the reason why dwellers in rural places are more peaceful and peaceable compared to their urban counterparts.”

Mr. Francis Adeoye, President of NAZAP and General Manager of Imo Zoo, appreciated the willingness of the stakeholders in participating in the event.

 

Also, present at the event were Prof. Placid Njoku, Deputy Governor of Imo State; Chief Casmos Iwu, SSG of Imo State; Chief Nnamdi Anyaehie, Chief of Staff, Imo State; Prof. Samuel Oluwalana, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta; Prof. Olajumoke Morenikeji, University of Ibadan; Dr. Moses Oyatogun, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta; Mr. Henry Erikowa, CEO, Falcorp Mangrove Park Development Initiative; government officials, academia, members of NAZAP, media, school pupils from 35 secondary schools among others.

 

Meanwhile, a Press Briefing on the importance of wildlife conservation and sharing of highlights of the event held in the office of the Commissioner of the Environment on Monday, 2nd March. This was chaired by Mr. Gilbert Nnah, Permanent Secretary, Imo State Ministry of Environment. In attendance were representatives of all the stakeholders and collaborators of this event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NCF Leads Winter Birds Census at Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands

Tuesday, 25 February 2020 10:29

 

 

 

 

As a RAMSAR Site, first of its kind in Nigeria, Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands (HNW) located in Jigawa and Yobe State, and as a wetlands' complex of immense interest to bird-watchers, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) led many to conduct Winter Bird Census between 10th and 16th February, 2020. 

HNW complex is of international significance to Palaearctic and Afro tropical migratory water birds, with counts of about 423,166 individual birds from 68 species recorded. Birds population in the wetlands usually fluctuate at each seasonal count.

 

The Wetlands have long been known as a centre of fish production. Upstream hydrological developments driven by irrigation projects threaten to degrade this important resource. Studies of flood plain fisheries have shown that fish production is closely related to flood extent. The existing and planned dams upstream of the HNW are likely to have a serious impact on fisheries. 

 

The ornithological importance of the HNW at both national and international levels is well known. Current efforts at conserving the avifauna of the wetlands started with the establishment of the HNW Conservation Project in 1987, as a joint international initiative to promote sustainable use of this hydric ecosystem in the otherwise semi-arid zone of north-eastern Nigeria. Since its inception, the project which comes in phases has its major goal of maintaining the natural resources and function of the wetlands. 

 

Bird monitoring and the annual dry season (northern winter) waterbirds surveys remain one of the most publicized bird conservation efforts of the conservation project. However, the recognition of the vital and central role of water in maintaining the ecological health of the wetlands has prompted the project to evolve a new strategy of establishing Site Support Groups (SSGs) in all the project target sites. These local communities are engaged in communal Typha clearance activities as well as regular meetings of NCF Promoter’s Committee and the wetlands’ water stakeholders to resolve periodic water use conflicts, channel blockage, water-shortage/distribution and other environmental problems` The Federal Ministry of Environment though, attempted to use a weed harvester machine to address the Typha invasion of the wetlands, which needs to be sustained for better results. 

 

While addressing the participants, a lecturer from the Federal University of Dutse, Dr Sulaiman  Inuwa said, “Uncontrolled hunting of birds and habitat loss remain pressing problems throughout the wetlands, to address this, therefore, the conservation project has made efforts to curb these problems through the ongoing Birds Species conservation and Tree planting/habitat regeneration programme as well as sensitizing students and the local communities through awareness campaigns and harnessing the efforts of concerned relevant local CSOs and government Institutions”. 

 

Meanwhile, Mr. Harry Hanson, NCF Project Officer who led the team said, “The conservation project is still consulting relevant stakeholders regarding sustainable control of crop damage by avian pests in the wetlands.” 

 

Other participants are Mr.  Paul A. Tersoo and Mr Abubakar Ringim from the Federal University of Dutse; Mr Ibrahim Mohammed Hadejia, Alh. Hassan Hassan from Jigawa State Ministry of Environment, Mr Abacha; Mr Sani from the Chad Basin National Park (Wetlands sector); Mr. Bala Bala from Nguru Local Government, and Mr. Samaila Mohammed Alkali from Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Kano among others.