• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Wild Africa Fund calls for protection as Nigeria loses 75% of elephant population in 30yrs

Wild Africa Fund calls for protection as Nigeria losses 75% of elephant population in 30yrs

Over the past 30 years, Nigeria’s elephant population has declined from an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 two decades ago to a current estimate of 300 to 400, and leading conservation non-profit, the Wild Africa Fund is calling for action to protect elephants as the world marks World Elephant Day.

The organisation has also hailed the efforts of its partners in Zimbabwe and Nigeria to work to protect elephants while encouraging the government to safeguard national parks home to forest elephants.

The declining number of elephants across Africa, which used to have about 415,000 of these large animals, is giving conservationists a cause for worry. Nigeria grapples with multifaceted challenges threatening its native elephant population. Habitat loss, poaching for ivory, and human-elephant conflict are the major threats elephants face in Nigeria, says Wild Africa Fund.

Nigeria, like Zimbabwe, can immensely benefit from sustainable wildlife tourism and conservation initiatives that protect elephants. In places like Zimbabwe, innovative measures are emerging.

In Zimbabwe, Wild Africa Fund partnered with the Tikobane Trust to use an elephant repellent, a concoction including chilli, garlic, and rotten eggs and presents a non-lethal method of conflict resolution. Likewise, the Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Programme experiments with deterrents like chilli fences and reflective barriers.

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In Nigeria, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has been using satellite collars to enhance the monitoring of elephant movements, allowing for a more prompt response when they venture outside the reserve. This has effectively reduced Human- Elephant Conflicts (HEC) incidents, including the use of elephant guardians, construction watchtowers, and the establishment of beehive and odorous elephant fences.

Wild Africa Fund encourages more innovations and collaboration to save elephants in other parts of Nigeria, especially in state-managed forest reserves in southwest Nigeria like Omo in Ogun state and Idanre in Ondo state, where forest elephants face severe logging pressures and agricultural encroachments.

Besides, unprotected sites like Itasin in southwest Nigeria, where some elephants from the Omo forest reserve migrated to and a hotspot for Human-Elephant Conflicts (HEC), should be prioritized with local solutions that protect elephants from humans.

“In addition, we must prioritize the legal protection of the smaller unprotected sites where elephants are still endangered to prevent their potential extinction and continuous clash with humans,” said Festus Iyorah, the Nigeria Representative at Wild Africa Fund.