As Nigeria joins the rest of the World to mark the 2020 World Wildlife Day, the Honourable Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor has called on Nigerians to protect wildlife and plant species and support Federal Government’s effort in tackling illegal wildlife trade across international ports and border posts of the country.
In line with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the World Wildlife Day (WWD) celebrated annually is one of the most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife and its protection. It is a day that stimulates awareness on wildlife conservation and arouses political will, attention and public action.
The theme for this year’s celebration is; ‘Sustaining all life on Earth’. Ikeazor stated that the theme is timely and all-encompassing as biodiversity is critically endangered and there is a need to rescue these natural resources and the planet at large. She restated Federal Government’s readiness to give maximum support for the protection of wildlife and its sustainability as Nigeria is a signatory to a number of treaties on the conservation of Endangered Species.
While reiterating Nigeria’s commitment to the fight against illegal wildlife trade, she noted that Nigeria joined other 182 nations to sign and ratify the International CITES Convention in 1974, and to give credence to this Convention, Nigeria promulgated the Endangered Species Decree No. 11 in 1985, which is now enacted as Endangered Species Act 2016.
The Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Wadinga Bakari at the event, further disclosed that Nigeria is endowed with enormous biodiversity resources of both plant and animal species.
Noting that, there are about 7,895 plant species and over 22,000 vertebrate and invertebrate species which include; insects, fish, birds and mammals which shows the depth of natural resources found within the geographical boundary of the country.
She said the effective management of these enormous resources in actualizing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals calls for the celebration of the World Wildlife Day. She however reiterates that this is not a day to just dine and wine but rather, it’s time to check and balance the successes recorded in the fight against wildlife crimes and also improve awareness on the threat of the unsustainable harvest of our wildlife resources.
She however advised that the Nigeria CITES Management Authority in partnership with several Security Agencies such as the Police (Interpol unit), Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, NESREA, FAAN, Ministry of Justice and many more forms a Joint Task Force in Combating Illegal trade of wildlife resources in order to curb poachers and traffickers.
Ikeazor reaffirmed the Ministry’s role as focal point of CITES implementation in Nigeria and its commitment to conserve wild species which according to her, were now almost driven into extinction due to over exploitation, habitat change and illicit trafficking. She added that the Ministry intends to continue to create awareness knowing that solving environmental issues will require truly comprehensive action and response at the local and international levels.
She finally called for attitudinal change and advocacy to save the environment and its endangered species.
Saghir el Mohammed
Federal Ministry of Environment