Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, Vice-Chancellor, Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, on Tuesday urged governments, stakeholders and individuals to evolve ways of conserving and sustaining use of wild animals and plants in Nigeria.
Fagbohun spoke at an event to commemorate the World Wildlife Day organised by the Lagos State University, Centre for Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development (CESSED) and United State Consulate in Lagos.
The theme of 2020 World Wildlife Day was: “Sustenance of Life on Earth, The Need to Conserve the Nigeria Biodiversity”.
United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had proclaimed March 3, 1973, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
This is to celebrate the World’s Wild Animals and Plants.
Fagbohun said the inescapable fact and reality was that we need to do more to give effectiveness to the governance regime in place for the management of wildlife.
“At a time like this when ignorance accentuated by incidences of “fake news” in the social media, and mischief have increasingly become features, there is need for strong solidarity among institutions that play complementary roles.
“World Wildlife Day is an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that their conservative provides to people.
“Today reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crimes and human-induced reduction of species which have wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts,” Fagbohun said.
He said that some of the benefits of healthy and abundant wildlife populations include: helps in promoting agricultural diversity, plays an important role in the discovery, development of most pharmaceutical products and traditional medicines.
“Other include: provides powerful images that help define the very essence of existence, features prominently in aboriginal or indigenous communities’ art, legend, cultural ceremonies and community rituals.
“Looking at the benefits, the expectation is that everyone will clearly recognise that we all have a duty to manage wildlife and its habitat,” Fagbohun said.
He said that illegal wildlife trade was believed to be the world’s fourth most valuable illicit commerce after drugs, human trafficking and the arms trade.
“The challenge facing wildlife is what the global governance system has for years been seeking to address through multilateral conventions and initiatives like the world wildlife day.
“At a point in 2005, Nigeria was suspended from CITES wildlife trade pact because of illegal wildlife trade and a lack of adequate enforcement.
“But, the suspension was lifted in August 2011 at the 61st meeting of the CITED Standing Committee (SC61),” Fagbohun said.
In his remarks, Mr Russel Brooks, Public Affairs Officer, U.S Consulate, decried the activities of poachers depleting Nigeria’s wildlife resources in places like Okomu Park, Yankari Games Reserves, among others.
Brooks said that the U.S Government had spent more than 370 million dollars in the past few years to support wildlife activities in the country.
Also, Prof. Basirat Animasahun, Director of LASU-CESSED), said that sustaining wildlife could be achieved, if all Nigerians could join hands to fight wildlife crimes in the country.
Animasahun said that there was a need to raise more awareness of wildlife and the importance of celebrating Flora and fauna.