ENVIRONMENTALISTS have urged the federal government to clamp down on the indiscriminate hunting of bush meat by stopping local hunters from driving the nation’s wild animals into extinction.
Over the weekend, participants in an environmental training programme, called on the government to enact and enforce laws that would stop local hunters from over-hunting wild animals. They attended a-week-long training organised by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation in partnership with online environment website Earthnewsinfo to discuss environmental degradation in Nigeria.
Environment consultant Rukayat Ali-Oluwafuyi, said the only reason why some endangered species like pangolin were being traded was due to ignorance and poverty on the part of the local hunters. She added that most of the hunters killing and selling the animals did not know their economic and market values.
Ms Ali-Oluwafuyi said: “The reasons some of these endangered species were being traded by the local hunters was because they were not aware of the importance of these animals. I am begging Nigerians to put the importance of the existence of the animals before money, like pangolins eat ants, so imagine if we do not have pangolins to eat ants, our houses will be littered with ants.”
She added that those buying endangered species only pay local hunters token amounts and then trade their goods at millions of dollars on the international market. Ms Ali-Oluwafuyi said that human beings were inter-independent on the other aspect of nature, pointing out that humans could not do anything without nature while nature could be independent because it had been existing before human beings.
Among other things, Ms Ali-Oluwafuyi pleaded with the government to eradicate poverty and continue sensitising the public on how to protect nature for better living without visiting hospitals from time to time. She said that there was a lady in Nigeria who rescued a sea tortoise from the local hunters, saying that she had to pay the hunters to allow the lady to accomplish her mission.
Ogechukwu Igwe-Nnaji, the chief executive of environmental firm Maintenance, said that due to unsustainable development, whenever it rains and there is flooding, there are no drains for the water to flow into canals or rivers. He added that the waters end up going through the streets and into people’s houses, destroying their belongings,
“Wild animals provide sources of learning for humanities and also provide balance temperature in the environment. Most of the wild animals eat grasses and due to their absence, those things they used to feed on will continue to multiply.
“Absence of snakes will always lead to an increase in the population of rats. The tortoise also eats shellfish and when it is wiped out, the population of shellfish also increases,” Mr Igwe-Nnaji added.
Another participant, Oyebola Atanda, urged Nigerians to learn more about the afforestation policy by planting two trees when cutting down one to prevent them becoming deserts. She said that before people cut trees, they should consider that it would affect the planet if there was no replacement.
Niger Delta environmental activist Ogherekparobo Ehuwubare, said the region’s water had been polluted due to constant vandalism. He urged government to step up efforts to ensure that their waters were drinkable and oil pipelines were also secured
Uthman Oyebanji, a 500-level student of the Department of Wildlife and Ecotourism Management at the University of Ibadan, urged Nigerians to start working toward recycling the environment to guarantee healthy and good living. This seminar, the Environmental Journalism Summer School is an advocacy programme that seeks to build the capacity of young Nigerians, so they can tackle the environmental challenges bedevilling their communities.