Conservationists call for strict law enforcement, awareness to tackle Nigeria’s pangolin trafficking
…as country now accounts for 70% of global illegal trade …marks 2020 World Pangolin Day
Conservationists in the country have called on the Federal Government to strictly enforce laws prohibiting the trade, and trafficking of pangolins and other endangered wildlife species in the country.
The conservationists who spoke at an event organised by the Pangolin Conservation Working Guild Nigeria (PCWGN) in partnership with the University of Lagos as part of activities to mark the 2020 World Pangolin Day also call for the need to drive awareness of pangolins in the country.
They noted that the country has to improve on its law enforcement owing to Nigeria’s involvement in many trafficking incidences of pangolin scales in the last two years.
According to them, Nigeria currently accounts for 70percent of all illegal pangolin scales traded between 2018 and 2019.
“Our message to the Nigerian government is that there is a need to conserve the pangolins and save it from extinction. There is also a need for Nigeria to have a reorientation and need to fight wildlife trafficking,” Olajumoke Morenikeji, co-ordinator, PCWGN said.
“The laws are already there but the enforcement is weak. Our government needs to support our enforcement agencies to enforce the law with seriousness,” Morenikeji who is also a professor of Parasitology at the University of Ibadan said.
She added that law enforcement agencies need to be empowered to arrest and convicts those illegally trafficking pangolins in the country.
Read also: Pangolins: Vanishing in the wild
She appreciated the Nigerian Customs for its efforts in tackling the illegal trade in the last two years but stated that much more still needs to be done.
Pangolin is the most trafficked wildlife mammal globally, owing to the belief that its body parts possess medicinal properties for the treatment of various ailments in Africa and Asia.
This has led to the poaching of the pangolins in record numbers, with Nigeria in the last few years accounting for the largest numbers of seizures.
“The government of Nigeria needs to give more support to the law enforcement agencies to combat this illegal trade that is not only sourced from Nigeria but all across Africa and trafficked through Nigeria to Asia,” said Ray Jansen, founder, and chair, African Pangolin Working Group.
“We need to cover all the loopholes of this illegal trade and train more personnel to achieve this,” Jansen who is also a professor said.
He added that his organisation is willing to support the country in the area of training.
Bernardine Ejiogu representing the Federal Controller of Environment, Lagos Zonal Office said that the country must continue to sensitise Nigerians on the illegal trade so that individuals can start reporting any trading activities within their environment to relevant authorities.
“We need to do more jingles to talk about wildlife crime. We need to continue with our efforts and collaboration in driving pangolin awareness,” Ejiogu said.
Also speaking during the event, Sule Mutalib, asst. comptroller of the Nigeria Customs Service, said that the country has remained a transit route because of the porosity of our borders while ensuring that the Nigerian Customs is doing everything within its power to ensure that the harmless mammal is allowed to live.
“Pangolins are important to the ecosystem and the Customs will continue to work hard to reduce the illegal trade to the barest minimum,” Mutalib said.