No fewer than 1,169 forest reserves in Nigeria suffer neglect, degradation, poaching and are not properly managed.
The Nigerian Conservation Foundation disclosed this during workshops it organised tagged ‘Regional common action plan on combatting illegal wildlife trade’ in Abeokuta and Kano.
A statement titled ‘NCF intensify campaign on combatting illegal wildlife trade’, said the objectives of the workshops included to improve awareness on the illegal wildlife trade issue with vulture as target species.
Others were to bring to the front burner, the common challenges and limitations against enforcement of wildlife laws in Nigeria and to sensitise the enforcement and border control agencies on the need to get more knowledge, understand the law and intensify efforts on enforcement.
It stated, “Majority of 1,169 forest reserves in Nigeria suffer neglect, degradation, poaching and are not properly managed.”
According to the statement said, illegal wildlife trade as fourth transnational crime in global rating posed threats to biodiversity comprising iconic animals such as elephants, rhinos, leopards and pangolins while birds such as vultures and African grey parrot were not exempted from the threat.
The Nigeria Customs Service, it stated, made several seizures by profiling the containers, elephant tusks, pangolin scales and rhino horn.
It noted that some of the challenges in curbing the menace of illegal wildlife trade included shortage of forest guards, high rate of poverty among forest dwellers, over-dependency on the forest resources, lack of modern facilities and equipment to manage the forests and lack of environmental education among Nigerians.
Reviewing the existing laws to make penalties stiffer and enhancing the capacity of law enforcement agencies in proper prosecution were identified as major ways to combat transnational and national illegal wildlife trade in Nigeria.
It also stated that environmental education, increased awareness campaign, training and retraining of security agents and more were other solutions proffered at the workshops.
The workshops had in attendance representatives of the judiciary, Nigeria Police; Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps; Nigeria Immigration Service; Nigeria Customs Service; State Departments of Forestry; wildlife conservationists among others, the statement said.
It stated that the project was sponsored by US Fish and Wildlife Service and BirdLife International.