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How Illegal Wildlife Exports Threaten Ecosystem


November 14, (THEWILL) – It appears that the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) is working assiduously towards preserving nature and improving the quality of lives of Nigerians, especially Lagosians.

It is believed that some of the critical players in the environment and tourism sectors across Nigeria planned to reposition the economy, with the 2021 Annual Walk for Nature, which was held in Lagos recently. A recent development points to the fact that the illegal trade in and sale of wildlife is also a major contributor to the loss of wildlife.

Speaking at a forum organised by Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources in collaboration with Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), the Governor Sanwo-Olu suggested that the state, through its plastic recycling programme, would address the issue of plastic waste pollution, which negatively affects aquatic wildlife and causes environmental degradation.

Buttressing this, he said, “It is not just in Lagos State but Nigeria as a whole. Animals such as pangolins, vultures and sea turtles are being hunted at an alarming rate and currently facing extinction.

“Action must be taken immediately to arrest this and restore their populations as they are known to help in the overall improvement of environmental health. Therefore, we all as individuals have a role to play in ensuring that this is achieved.”

Sanwo-Olu, who was ably represented by his Special Adviser on Drainage and Water Resources, Engr Joe Igbokwe, expressed the belief that preventing the encroachment of these ecosystems would go a long way in protecting the species of plants and animals therein for future sustainability.

He stressed, “We also realised that the protection of nature cannot be done in isolation. Therefore, partnership with organisations, who are in the forefront of nature conservation is more important than ever.

“It is in this vein that we have partnered and will continue to partner reputable organisations to ensure that these targets are met in earnest.”

Describing this Year’s Walk For Nature event themed, ‘Conserve biodiversity, Sustain humanity’ as very apt, considering the alarming rate at which the world’s biodiversity is constantly being threatened, Sanwo-Olu said the state government would continue to safeguard biodiversity through the introduction of biodiversity laws, stressing that the introduction of biodiversity laws would help to protect and better manage wetland systems and biodiversity in the state.

He also explained that biodiversity had to do with all varieties of life, which include interactions with one another and the environment, adding that human activities over the past few centuries impacted the earth and altered the course of nature through over-exploitation of other life forms and pollution.

“Biodiversity has to do with all varieties of life, including their interactions with each other and the environment. Sadly, human activities and interactions over the past few centuries have not only impacted the earth, but also severely altered the course of nature via over-exploitation of other life forms and pollution through their activities.

“According to the United Nations Global Biodiversity Outlook Report 2020, humanity stands at a crossroads, with regards to the legacy it leaves to the future generations. Biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate and the pressures during this decline are intensifying.

“The importance of biodiversity to sustenance of humans is enormous and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us how benefitting it is to live in harmony with nature. The importance of biodiversity ranges from the provision of food, medicine, shelter and fuel, including aesthetic and economic values. The loss of biodiversity may have a trickle-down effect on the ecosystem as the interrelationship amongst species of organisms are complex and the loss of one single species may lead to the extinction of one or more species that depend on such organisms for survival,” he said.

At another point in the same meeting, the Chairman of the Executive Council of NCF, Chief Ede Dafinone stated that biodiversity was the bedrock of human existence, calling on all to live in partnership with nature.

Participants at the event included groups, corporate organisations, volunteers and environmental enthusiasts. Addressing the gathering, the Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, Mrs Belinda Odeneye, said, “This outing over the years has created a great deal of consciousness among Lagosians resident on the Island, which is one of the five divisions of Lagos State. To further spread the awareness state-wide, this year’s programme has been decentralised to other parts of the state. “Humanity and nature have evolved together for thousands of years, creating unique and interdependent cultures and landscapes. Indigenous people and local communities are the primary custodians of much of the world’s most valuable remaining forests, grassland, savannah, wetlands and oceans.

“In failing to recognise indigenous people and local communities we weaken our planet’s resilience and reduce our ability to deliver well-being and prosperity for all. Conserving biodiversity to sustain humanity is very essential considering the fact that biodiversity is essential to human health, well-being and prosperity. Biodiversity supports the provision of ecosystem services such as food, fresh water, fuel wood, fibre, biochemical, ecotourism which are central to economic activities.

“Our cravings for developmental changes, plastic production and consumption, illegal trade in endangered species have caused great harm to nature and biodiversity and as such there is the need for us to restore these priced resources.

The state is developing a sector policy on wetland and biodiversity to ensure balanced development, where the cause of nature is adequately mainstreamed into our development planning.

“Why should we walk for nature? The reasons are numerous: We get closer to nature and reduce vehicular emissions which contribute to global warming as more vehicles will stay off the roads. We experience world class bird watching, learn about varied habitats, understand the management effort needed to develop and discover more about nature through our lively interpretation.” Odeneye added that since nature had always fed, cured and protected humans, there is a need for a role switch between nature and man. “We need to feed, cure and protect nature in return, if we must secure a healthy and prosperous future for generations unborn,” she said.

Earlier in a welcome address, Odeneye had noted that conserving biodiversity to sustain humanity is very essential, considering the fact that biodiversity is essential to human health, well-being and prosperity.

She explained that the Lagos State Government, through the THEMES agenda, had addressed some of these issues to ensure environmental sustainability, stressing that the state is developing a sector policy on wetland and biodiversity to ensure balanced development.