The U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Nigeria, Maria Brewer, on Thursday called on the Nigerian government to urgently enact and implement more strident penalties for wildlife traffickers.
Brewer, who made the appeal in Lagos at an event to commemorate this year’s World Wildlife Day, said that such penalties should discourage traffickers from using Nigeria as a transit point.
“The Nigerian government should enact and implement more strident penalties for wildlife trafficking, penalties that will dissuade potential traffickers from using Nigeria as a transit point.
“Nigeria, by virtue of its size, location and market position, can play a critical role in saving the continent’s most precious natural resources.
“We believe that preserving the natural world and its inhabitants is critical to a prosperous and stable Nigeria,’’ she said.
The U.S. official noted that there were currently limited prohibitive regulations against poaching, trading and sale of wildlife products.
According to her, Nigeria is home to a wealth of wildlife, including a number of endangered species like pangolins, elephants, the Cross River gorilla, grey parrots and more.
Brewer also announced her Mission’s plan to support Nigeria in training, technical exchanges, information and public education to promote conservation, as well as in combating poaching and wildlife trafficking.
She also called on Nigerian communities and individuals to be active in wildlife conservation, and to desist from dealing with illicit traders and poachers.
Lawrence Anukam, Director-General of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), said that Nigeria’s size, borderline, numerous waterways and airports currently posed threats to her wildlife conservation laws.
Anukam also identified the non-harmonisation of States’ Wildlife Laws, as a major challenge to the Federal Government’s wildlife conservation efforts.
He also said that Nigeria had no sufficient research data on the state of her wildlife, for proper monitoring and conservation.