Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT), estimated to worth more than $150b yearly, may continue to thrive despite global concerns, if local, continental and global efforts are not focused on strict enforcement of extant regulations.
Though the development is classed as transnational crime and could be successfully combated by international cooperation with local input, Nigeria’s porous borders and other factors are reportedly fueling transit of wildlife from Africa to China and other countries.
With growing concern in Nigeria and other African countries, which have become major victims of illegal wildlife trade, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), in a report, stated that the situation may persist without proper enforcement of laws banning or addressing issues relating to illegal wildlife trade.
Director-General, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, who was represented at an online conversation hosted by International Support Network for African Development (ISNAD- Africa) and the World Wide Fund (WWF) by the Director, Technical Programmes, Onoja Daniel, said though there are some policy instruments that governments of various national and regional levels are employing, lack of enforcement encourages the menace.
“There is a major gap, which is proper enforcement of these instruments and the capacity of law enforcement agents.
Different countries are doing their bits, especially in East and South African countries, where enforcement of wildlife laws is at the same level with other crimes like armed robbery,” he stated.
Aminu-Kano explained that nature has created a delicate balance, where wildlife play critical role for the overall conducive living of mankind.While the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) earlier this year expressed concern that Nigeria is emerging as a transit hub for illegal wildlife trade, particularly pangolins, Aminu-Kano said a single pangolin could consume over 70 million ants and termites in a year, thereby saving a forest as large as 31 soccer fields.
But with the extinction of such animals, unleashing over 70 million ants and termites on mankind in a year would be disastrous.He noted that everyone has a role to play in the conservation of biodiversity.
Speaking on the online campaign, Africa4Nature Health (A4NH) Initiative, ISNAD-Africa’s Wuraola Okuwobi stressed the need for local and international organisations to discuss the various linkages between COVID-19 and nature conservation and biodiversity.