In commemoration of the 2022 World Pangolin Day, conservationists in Nigeria have called for community involvement in the fight in tackling the country’s illegal pangolin trade.
The conservationists who spoke at an event organized by the Pangolin Conservation Guild Nigeria in collaboration with the US Consulate in Lagos to mark the 11th edition of the 2022 World Pangolin Day said that Nigeria cannot make substantial progress in its fight against illegal trade without community action.
In her keynote address, Sharon Ikeazor, Minister of State for Environment, represented by Aliyu Jauro, the director-general of NESREA, said achieving sustainability without community action is a challenge to sustainable wildlife resources.
Ikeazor said the mission of the ministry is to ensure environmental protection, natural resources conservation, and sustainable development, adding that the country will soon sign a Cooperation Framework Agreement on Transboundary Ecosystem Conservation and Sustainable Management of Forestry and Wildlife Resources with Cameroun.
Speaking also during the event, Ibrahim Gori, conservator-general, National Park Service said that President Buhari had recently approved the establishment of ten new national parks in the country to enhance efforts and commitment to tackling illegal wildlife trade in the country.
According to him, the theme for the 2022 World Pangolin Day is especially relevant because the conservation of any animal species, including the pangolins, is impossible without the cooperation of the community where these species are found.
Also, Olajumoke Morenikeji, chairman and convener, Pangolin Conservation guild of Nigeria stated that pangolins are the most smuggled mammal in the world because of their meat and scales.
She said “unrestricted poaching, hunting, and trafficking of pangolins can lead to the extinction of the only mammals with scales as seen in Asia.
She added that “to solve this problem, our existing conservation laws in the country should be amended and better enforced, to discourage hunting and poaching of pangolins and other wildlife animals.
Also present at the event was Jennie Foltz from the department of Public Affairs, United States consulate, Lagos.
While delivering her speech, Jennie said that “the joint project between the United States Consulate and the Pangolin Conservation Guild of Nigeria is focused on promoting advocacy, dive awareness and curb the threats from pangolin trafficking on the environment and human health.”
She added that the US mission to Nigeria, embassy in Abuja, and the consulate in Lagos will continue to work closely with Nigerian authorities to train enforcement agencies on how to identify traffickers of pangolin meat and scales.
She hails community advocacy efforts at the grassroots and renewed commitment by the Nigerian government to wildlife protection.
Speaking on the importance of pangolins, Aliyu Jauro, director general and CEO of National Environmental Standards of Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) said that various studies have shown that a pangolin can protect an area of forest as large as a football field from termite destruction while enabling forest to absorb CO2 and to produce O2.
He stated that pangolins play a critical role in maintaining biodiversity and a healthy environment.
Notable among the challenges facing Pangolin conservation in Nigeria include the high poverty rate in the country and the insatiable appetite of pangolins scale and meat, Aliyu Jauro, the director-general, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), said in his presentation.
Pangolins are extremely difficult to propagate in captivity, and most die within a short period after capture, he further said.
The event also witnessed an inter-school debate, live cultural performance, and a panel discussion concerning the way forward for the conservation of pangolins.