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FG, Military partner on wildlife preservation

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Nigeria is a hub for the illegal trafficking of wildlife and forest goods.

The Minister of Environment, Balarabe Lawal, announced a new collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Environment and the military to safeguard forests and wildlife in the nation. During a visit from the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Christopher Musa, in Abuja, Lawal emphasised that this partnership will enhance the achievement of environmental objectives and climate initiatives. In the 2023 report on wildlife by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, it was revealed that Nigeria plays a crucial role as a hub and gathering place for the illegal trafficking of wildlife and forest goods, particularly pangolin, ivory, and rosewood.

According to the UNODC, Nigeria has been identified in over 1,000 records from 2011 to 2020 as either a source, transit, or destination country or as the nationality of the offender. Additionally, the Nigerian government reported that the country’s forest cover has significantly decreased, leaving only three percent remaining instead of the previous estimate of 25 percent. Lawal pointed out the unprecedented rise in temperature in Nigeria from February onwards, indicating a significant shift in the climate.

Environmental conservation will be achieved with this partnership.

It is crucial for them to prioritise environmental conservation as it directly affects living conditions. It is imperative that they have their backing to achieve this goal. Their unwavering support in the realm of preserving forests is crucial. Currently, forest coverage in Nigeria is a mere three percent. Therefore, it is vital that they take action to combat the illegal logging and exportation of wood. Additionally, the country is faced with the dilemma of illegal wildlife poaching.

Recently, two elephants were tragically killed in Borno state, further depleting the already small elephant population in Nigeria, which is less than 200. Additionally, the illegal hunting of pangolins continues to be a major concern. This shows that their assistance is vital in safeguarding the wildlife. The minister highlighted the importance of transforming waste into valuable resources. Nigeria has an abundance of waste, which is why efforts are being made to establish a circular economy. With the aim is to generate jobs and energy from waste. The minister announced the development of a roadmap to steer Nigeria towards a circular economy.

High priority is placed on environmental protection as a human role.

Similarly, the Chief of Defence Staff mentioned that steps are being taken to combat illegal oil bunkering and soot pollution within the nation. Musa emphasised the ongoing commitment to safeguarding the environment, acknowledging it as an ongoing challenge. The goal is to foster collaboration and enhance mutual understanding for the benefit of the country. The Armed Forces place a high priority on the environment, recognising its crucial role in human existence and security. Without a healthy environment, human survival would be impossible, underscoring the vital importance of environmental protection for military operations.

Widespread impact of climate change is evident in various aspects of life, highlighting the urgent need for innovative solutions to combat this issue. The Armed Forces stand prepared to offer their assistance, emphasising the importance of teamwork. Criminals, bandits, and other unauthorised parties exploit forested areas to commit atrocious acts, as highlighted by the defense chief. He expressed his commitment to collaborating on safeguarding these locations and reassured them that they are fully prepared to provide any necessary assistance. Our priority is to guarantee the sustainability of our forests, he affirmed.

Related Article: Nigeria, UNODC ties to tackle wildlife crime

Lastly, Nigeria is home to a diverse range of wildlife species, many of which are endemic and unique to the region. By protecting these species, we help to ensure the long-term survival and health of ecosystems, as well as support the conservation of valuable genetic resources that can benefit future generations. Additionally, wildlife conservation in Nigeria plays a significant role in promoting ecotourism and supporting the livelihoods of local communities. By attracting tourists to visit national parks and reserves, Nigeria can generate economic benefits and raise awareness about the importance its conservation.

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