BEVERLY HILLS, May 30, (THEWILL) – The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) has launched the Gashaka Biodiversity Support Initiative in Taraba state. The aim is conservation of endangered species like vultures in the state.
Speaking at a recent launch, the Director General of NCF, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano said the foundation and its partners would give maximum support through funding and training to community-based organisations that show strong commitment in conservation efforts.
As an organization, NCF is strictly concerned with environmental conservation and protection of biodiversity so that people can live in harmony with nature.
Speaking at the inauguration of GBSI, an autonomous biodiversity programme by residents of Gashaka Community, Dr. Aminu-Kano said the people of Gashaka deserve recognition, applause and commendation for jealously guarding and protecting the national park in their area and making sure that the animals there were still intact.
The Gashaka-Gumti National Park which was gazatted from two games reserves in 1991, measures about 6,402 square kilometers, making it the largestin Nigeria and Africa in general.
The community, already has a Board of Trustees with the Emir of Gashaka Kingdom, Alhaji Zubairu Hamman Gabbo as Chairman and is being used as an avenue to reward the community for its steadfastness in protecting the national park within its domain.
Dr. Aminu-Kano while noting that the Emir of Gashaka Kingdom Alhaji Zubairu Hamman Gabbo and his community have been quite supportive, promised that the foundation would continue to assist whatever they do thus making sure that their efforts are not in vain.
The NCF DG commended Emir Gabbo for his fatherly sacrifice in donating six hectares of prime land in his community in support of the Gashaka Biodiversity Support Initiative.
He said: “The Nigerian Conservation Foundation has had a long history with Gashaka and the Gashaka-Mumti National Park. For a long time, we have supported the protection, research and community-based activities in the park, and in partnership with some of our international partners including the WWF, BirdsLife and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). So all that have culminated in today because today is the launch of a genuinely independent, autonomous community-based organisation in support of biodiversity around a very rich and highly biodiversed and largest national park in Africa. It is really a historical moment”.
Continuing, Aminu-Kano said, “the Emir and his community have been quite supportive, and this is remarkable because it is not the same story around other parts, not just in Nigeria, but around the world.”
“It is their culture, motivation and works that has led to the endurance of biodiversity in the park and I can see that confidently coming from Kano which is an urban areas, we have degraded our own biodiversity.
“It is because they have taken care of those resources, not just for themselves but for Taraba, Nigeria and the rest of the world and they have done that at considerable cost.”
According to him, “they have restricted their own access to resources that they could if they had given a short view, they could have thought they would maximize their economic benefits by destroying those resources”.
“But their culture, attitude, behaviour and leadership has resulted in the fact that those resources are still intact. We must recognize, applaud and commend their endurance and forebearance for what they have currently. And we must strive to support whatever they do in whichever way we can make sure that their efforts are not in vain”.
“I commend you, Your Royal Highness for the foresight and for the hard work you and your community in making sure that we have the biodiversity to boast of around Gashaka.”
In his remark, Emir Gabbo promised that in addition to donating six hectares of land for the Gashaka Biodiversity Support Initiative, he would use his power, privileges and connections to ensure that the initiative survived, adding that it would provide opportunities for job creation especially for the youths of his community.
Emir Gabbo who appealed to the NCF, GBSI trustee members, national and international partners for their commitment, promised to bring on board global best practices in making the initiative a masterpiece.
Contributing, Professor Esther Okunade of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho, Oyo State, who is one of the coordinators of GBSI, said her role would be to find how the initiative would impact lives and livelihoods of people of the community.
Other speakers at the virtual meeting described the Gashaka Biodiversity Support Initiative as a welcome development and one that would change the narrative of biodiversity conservation in Nigeria since it would promote the participation of rural dwellers.
Mr. Junaid Dikko of African Nature Initiative, a member of the GBSI Board of Trustees was present among others.