Conservationists urge FG to intensify efforts at tackling illegal pangolin trade
… say Nigeria’s economic situation fueling trafficking
As global pangolin trade continues to heat up and more seizures are linked to Nigeria, conservationists in the country have urged the Federal Government to intensify its efforts at tackling the illegal trade of the mammal.
The conservationists say the country’s porous borders have continued to allow significant quantities of African pangolins *to be* smuggled undetected to Asia, thus making Nigeria the main hub for pangolin trafficking.
They also noted that weak law enforcement and the country’s economic situation is fuelling illegal wildlife trade in the country.
Olajumoke Morenikeji, Chair of the Pangolin Conservation Guild Nigeria (PCGN) on Channels TV Sunrise Programme said that poachers have turned to Africa to supply tons of pangolins to the Asian market, and if left unchecked the mammal will go into extinction.
Morenikeji said the country is now reputed as the main hub for pangolin trafficking while calling on the government at all levels to urgently address the issue.
“The government needs to do more, better enforce the law on endangered wildlife species, create more awareness and education, provide alternative livelihood to hunters and address the issue of the porosity of our ports and borders,” she said.
Speaking on what PCGN is doing to conserve the mammal, Morenikeji said that the group is driving awareness on the plight of the pangolins and collaborating with others to educate the public on the importance of the mammal and the need to conserve them.
The group is also working on empowerment initiatives to support locals who hunt pangolins.
She added that the pangolin group also rescues pangolins in trade and from traffickers* and releases them into protected forest areas as well as conduct research on pangolins to better understand the mammal.
Speaking also during the programme, Linus Unah, West African representative of WildAid Africa said that the porosity of the border has made most seizures linked to the country be reported in Asia with few reports in Nigeria.
Unah said the country had in 2016 amended the Wildlife Act to raise the penalty but the implementation has been very poor and this has continued to fuel the trading and hunting of pangolins.
“The government needs to address the situation,” he said.
He noted that his organisation is producing behavioural change campaigns to teach people about the importance of wildlife.