Nigeria has burned pangolin scales worth $1.4 million in a stand against wildlife trafficking and in compliance with the Pangolin Conservation Guild Nigeria (PCGN) request.
This is the first time the country has publicly destroyed wildlife products in its fight against wildlife trafficking, according to BBC. About four tonnes of pangolin scales were destroyed alongside seized leopard, python and crocodile skins.
The National Environmental Standard and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) had confiscated the scales in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and a pan-African alliance named the Elephant Protection Initiative.
“These seized items represent the past we leave behind, but the destruction signifies the future we are determined to build for our planet,” Environment Minister Iziaq Adekunle said before the burning took place in Abuja.
“The destruction of these seized items is a powerful statement of our resolve to protect our environment, conserve our wildlife, and combat the illegal trade that drives species to the brink of extinction.”
PCGN had in May 2019 and July 2022 called for the national burning of seized pangolin scales in letters sent to National Environmental Standard and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA).
“PCGN calls for a national burning of the seized pangolin scales overflowing in the ports,” stated one of the letters seen by BusinessDay and signed by Olajumoke Morenikeji, a professor and chair of PCGN.
“This will send a strong signal to the rest of the world that Nigeria means business and is totally against pangolin trafficking,” the statement said.
“It will also send a strong signal to those using our borders for trafficking these animals,” it added.
The pangolin, which curls up into a ball when frightened, is the world’s most trafficked wild mammal.
Nigeria is a major transit hub for African pangolin scales and other wildlife products trafficked to Asia.
The surge in pangolin poaching and trafficking in the past few years in Nigeria is widely believed to be driven by the growing economies in Far East Asia, especially China, where pangolin meat is seen as a status symbol by part of the nation.