A substantial quantity of seized wildlife products were destroyed by the Nigerian government. They include crocodile, python, and leopard skins, even pangolin scales. This happening is the first in the history of the nation. Thus, according to report, the government is prepared to protect the biodiversity of the nation and fight wildlife trafficking. The incineration event was held in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, with representatives from local and international environmental NGOs, wildlife conservation experts, and different government sectors in attendance.
The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) carried out the incineration in partnership with the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI) Foundation, with additional support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) at an event where a methodical procedure was followed to decrease a sum of 3,914.08 kilogrammes (nearly 4 tonnes) of confiscated pangolin scales and 110 kilogrammes of animal skins from protected species, such as crocodile, python and leopard being burnt to ashes.
Required measures to protect endangered species will be taken.
Dr. Iziaq Salako, the Minister of State for Environment, stated that the event was organized to serve as a witness to the crucial moment in the fight to protect the invaluable biodiversity of the planet. He said that the seized items symbolize past experiences of the nation, however, the incineration of the items represent the future that Nigeria is determined to establish for the planet. He added that the incineration of the items is significant to attack the illegal trade that causes extinction of species, conserve wildlife and protect the environment.
Professor Aliyu Jauro, the Director General and Chief Executive Officer of NESREA, said that illegitimate wildlife trafficking is a gross threat and danger to global biodiversity and natural heritage. He stated that Nigeria has shown commitment by carrying out its part to counter the crisis. The nation has sent a message through the destruction of the pangolin scales, including crocodile, python and leopard skins that illegal wildlife trading will not be accepted again. As a result of this, the nation will take required measures to protect the endangered species and unique ecosystems.
Two out of the four pangolin species are endangered.
Partly because the scales of the pangolins are in great demand for use in traditional medicine in Asia, where their meats are considered edible, they are among the most trafficked mammals globally. Shipments from African countries have greatly increased to meet growing demand due to a decline in pangolin populations in Asia. The eight species of pangolins — four in Asia and four in Africa — were highlighted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix I, enhancing their legal protection availability.
Nevertheless, the illegal trade of pangolin parts has led to scaly anteaters dangerously nearing extinction. Using the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, it was shown that out of the four pangolin species found, two of them are endangered as they are at the point of going into extinction. Nigeria has been ranked as the major source for the trafficking of pangolin scales to Asia. Between 2016 and 2019, 55 percent of pangolin scale confiscations were traced to Nigeria. Ruth Musgrave, the Director of Stockpile Management at the EPI Foundation, stated that the incineration of seized pangolin in Nigeria was to promote the combat against wildlife crime.
First National Strategy to Combat Wildlife and Forest Crime.
Also, the Nigerian authorities saw the immediacy to protect the species. To make this happen, they have taken essential steps to fight the illegal trading of pangolins via the borders, and adoption of Nigerian first National Strategy to Combat Wildlife and Forest Crime. In 2022, the Nigeria Customs Service was recorded to have confiscated 1,613 tonnes of pangolin scales and arrest 14 suspects. Similarly, two people were sentenced to four years in prison in May 2023 for conspiracy to illegally own 145 kg of elephant tusks and 839.4 kg of pangolin scales illegally, while a clearing agent was given a six-month prison sentence, in June 2023, for illegal possession of elephant bones, tusks, ivory, and pangolin scales.