Experts Highlight Nature Based Solution to Curbing Pandemics

Wednesday, 27 May 2020 13:21

Dr. Joseph Onoja, Technical Director, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), joined other world leaders in conservation to promote biodiversity at the webinar conference organised Department of Zoology, University of Lagos, on Friday, 22nd May 2020 in commemoration of the International Day of Biodiversity (IDB) 2020 with the theme “Our Solutions are in Nature”.

 

In his lecture titled “The Role of Wildlife to a Pandemic: potentials and challenges”, he said that

 

wildlife (plants and animals) are an integral part of the existence of humans, and nature has created a balance for the enjoyment and overall wellbeing of humans. However, humans in their ‘wisdom’ have interrupted and disrupted that balance. These disruptions have come with its attendant consequences e.g. Pandemics, floods, heat wave, sea surge etc.

 

He then proposed a four cardinal nature-based solutions to the identified challenges. They are sanitation, flood prevention, regulation as well as pest management. He said, “Wildlife have been placed to prevent such pandemics in the first place, but since we have found ourselves in this situation, wildlife will also be the solution.”

 

Other participants include Dr. Kevin Njabo, Department of Environmental Health Science, University of California, USA; Dr Anil Kumar, CEO, Foundation for Nature Conservation, India; Prof. J. K. Saliu, HOD, Department of Zoology, University of Lagos among others.

 

In a related development, the Nigerian Youth Biodiversity Network organised an online event to add their voice to the Day. 

 

Dr. Onoja in his presentation “Challenges and Opportunities of COVID-19 on Biodiversity Conservation in Nigeria" listed some of the challenges of Covid-19 on biodiversity conservation as hostility towards wildlife; inability to carry out field conservation work or patrols and reduced funding for conservation work because of economic downturn for funders.

 

He revealed further that though pandemic has caused a lockdown it has however presented a good opportunity for biodiversity conservation effort to be well promoted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#StopTheKillings Petition Launched in Africa Today

Wednesday, 27 May 2020 12:31

 

 

 

Petition calls for action following the largest incident of vulture killings in the world 

 

A coalition of international conservation organizations has today launched an online petition dubbed #StopTheKillings, calling for action to address the unprecedented mass killings of vultures in Guinea-Bissau through poisoning. These killings, the largest incident of mass vulture deaths in the world, are a big blow to conservation efforts to save Africa’s vultures. 

 

More than 2000 Critically Endangered Hooded vultures are reported to have died, following deliberate poisoning with an agricultural pesticide, which is highly toxic for vultures. Vultures play a vital role in our environment keeping it free of decaying carcasses, yet these majestic birds have experienced catastrophic declines around the world, with populations of all African vulture species plummeting by 70-97% over the last 50 years. In the Guinea-Bissau case, initial investigations indicate that this mass killing of vultures is being driven by belief-based use. It is erroneously believed that vulture heads and other body parts have special powers and can bring good luck to users. Widespread killing of vultures in Guinea-Bissau through poisoning – the leading cause of vulture mortality in Africa, threatens to wipe out stronghold populations of these Critically Endangered birds. 

 

The #StopTheKillings petition launched by BirdLife International, Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF), The IUCN Vulture Specialist Group, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), The Peregrine Fund and The Organization for the Defence and Development of Wetlands in Guinea-Bissau (ODZH) is calling on the Guinea-Bissau government, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the global community to take urgent action to halt these mass killings by bringing to account those responsible for these atrocities, and enforcing measures to safeguard vultures. 

 

“The large scale poisoning of vultures in Guinea-Bissau represents a major blow to vulture conservation efforts in the West African region and in Africa at large. We are urging the Guinea-Bissau government to address these mass killings urgently to safeguard Guinea-Bissau’s vulture populations”, notes Francisco Gomes Wambar, Executive Director of the Organisation for the Defence and Development of Wetlands in Guinea-Bissau (ODZH). 

 

The petition is also calling on the global community to support interventions aimed at halting the persecution of vultures in Guinea-Bissau and across Africa. 

 

“As a long-time amateur ornithologist I have come to admire birds’ life cycles and conservation needs. The mass deaths of vultures in my country highlights the dire vulnerability of Africa’s vultures and the need to urgently save these rapidly disappearing birds, while involving local communities in these interventions”, notes Professor Carlos Lopes, retired UN Under- Secretary-General and current Professor at the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, University of Cape Town. 

 

“Poisoning of vultures in Guinea-Bissau is being driven by demand for vulture body parts used for superstitious purposes such as ritual charms. Changing this trajectory will require concerted efforts from all stakeholders, most importantly local and national authorities and civil society organizations. Halting the killings and urgently putting in place measures to protect vultures should be a priority”, says Rebecca Garbett, Vulture Conservation Manager at BirdLife International.

 

The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), BirdLife partner in Nigeria lends its support to the petition launched today in furtherance of its “save vulture” campaign project commenced in 2017. This awareness campaign has been done in major cities such as Lagos, Abuja etc, and also taken to the vulture hotspots states such Kano, Sokoto, Taraba, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Enugu, Yobe and Oyo. 

 

The vulture conservation campaign is on-going in Nigeria. 

 

Sign the #StopTheKillings petition HERE

 

 

 

Conservation Leaders Defy Odds to Speak up for Biodiversity

Tuesday, 26 May 2020 16:44

 In the quest to keep on promoting conservation message despite the current world crisis, conservationists commemorate the International Day of Biodiversity (IDB) 2020 with the theme, “Our Solutions are in Nature”.

 

The Office of the Minister of State for the Environment in collaboration with Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Federal Department of Forestry, British High Commission and COP26 Region for Sub-Saharan Africa organised a webinar to create more awareness about threats facing biodiversity. 

 

Chief (Mrs) Sharon Ikeazor, the Hon. Minister of State for the Environment, in her opening speech, revealed that Biodiversity is the foundation of life and also is about the variety of life on earth that cover millions of species, from plants, animals, fungi and bacteria. 

 

She said “The ecosystem is the baseline that holds all of this together. Human interaction with the ecosystem must remain balanced or else we risk disrupting nature with dire consequences. To prevent future pandemic, we must restore, conserve and protect our biodiversity.” 

 

She added that Nigeria’s biodiversity is threatened by habitat change, over-exploitation, invasive alien species, pollution and the effect of climate change.

 

Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Director General of NCF who was the Keynote Speaker stated that despite all humans technological advances, humans are completely dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystems for their health, water, food, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter, energy and many more.

 

He said further that Nature-based Solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits.

 

He said, “Ecosystems like forests and wetlands are critical to human wellbeing and provide enormous biodiversity conservation benefits.”

 

Some of the solutions he proposed are preservation and restoration of wetlands and floodplains as flood management solution; protection of coastal wetlands/ecosystem is a natural risk management tool against coastal erosion; degraded forests can be restored by planting trees; Protected Areas are natural infrastructures that mitigate the impacts of climate change because they sink carbons in the environment. 

 

He further revealed that the SDG 3, 13, 14 and 15 largely depend on nature (biodiversity) to be achieved. Therefore, he advised that governments, corporate institutions and individuals must arise to address the issues affecting environmental sustainability in Nigeria. 

 

This year’s International Day for Biological Diversity is targeted towards raising awareness and building momentum on the importance of biodiversity as well as global issues on biodiversity loss. 

 

Also present at the meeting were Her Excellency, Mrs. Catriona Laing, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Paul Arkwright, COP26 Regional Ambassador for Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr Desmond Majekodunmi, NCF Council member and other nature enthusiasts.