The fall in oil prices globally over the years has shown the economic vulnerabilities attached to Nigeria’s dependence on revenues made from crude oil. Although other industries like agriculture and entertainment have been tipped to improve Nigeria’s economic status quo, the tourism sector has huge potential to improve the country’s economic development. With the sector, weaved with cultural heritages and histories, Nigeria has not deeply explored the industry. With $5 million in 2016, Nigeria ranked 35th among countries with the highest earnings from tourism.
Commenting on the challenges halting Nigeria’s exploration of the tourism industry, Peter Knights, founder of Wild Africa Fund, noted that numerous conservation problems in Nigeria were as a result of the endangered wildlife that has ravaged the country’s wildlife scene. In indicating these problems, he stated that there were only about 50 lions and 500 elephants in the country. Although the country still harbors the dream of establishing national parks to improve the tourism industry, he noted that the increase and sustainable of these wildlife animals was a major challenge.
New legislation to support wildlife development compulsory.
He noted that wildlife had immensely enhanced the tourism industry in countries like Rwanda. The Wild Life Fund founder revealed that Rwanda had in fact, rebuilt its national park. He lauded Rwanda’s efforts at placing Rhinos, giraffes, as well as other animals back in established zoos, which have helped them develop their tourism sector. He however admitted that this process involved a huge investment of time and money. Listing a wide range of employment opportunities, Peter explained that tourism was a major drive for enhancing employment across the country.
Speaking on the ways by which Nigeria could enact in salvaging these problems, Peter noted that a new legislation to support the development of the industry would be tremendous. He indicated that these new laws were being facilitated by NASA, an agency that has indulged in little or no prosecutions in the past. He thus explained that with this new law, illegal poaching of animals would-be eradicated whilst still being able to prosecution.
Wildlife Africa Fund tilted towards public service and outreach.
It is also indicated that it was important for Nigeria to fulfill its obligations to the United Nations Convention, one that the current legislation has not been able to fulfill. Asked why Nigeria was the hub for transmitting the illegal trafficking of pangolin scales, he admitted that Nigeria had over time, become the epicenter for wildlife trafficking. Peter, who had once advocated for the reduction of urban consumption of bushmeat in Nigeria, stated that it was hugely possible to change the status quo here, indicating that the country was enacting actions to curb this challenge.
Further explaining the mission of his Wild Africa Fund in Nigeria and across Africa, he noted that the mission was tilted toward public service work, enlightenment via media materials, as well as outreach. Peter disclosed that his team was working on launching a park concert series that would involve music across Africa and wildlife education. He also disclosed that his team was working closely to support the enactment of the wildlife legislation and once this is achieved, education outreach will be enabled.
Nigerians must participate in the protection of wildlife.
Peter Knight also indicated that numerous surveys would be carried out this year, as the responses from the media had been really supportive. He said that the government and its agencies were totally positive about this project, promising that a massive transformation would be witnessed over the next 18 months. On the outreach, he disclosed that they were working with local TV stations to ensure that the message is passed via local languages. He then urged Nigerians to participate in the protection of wildlife.
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