The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, has called for increased action to stop the illegal trade in wildlife.
The call was the highlight of his message on World Environment Day 2016, which was read by Oluseyi Soremekun, the national information officer of the United Nations Information Centre, at an event organised by the Nigerian Environmental Society at the Kanu Ndubuisi Park, Alausa, Lagos.
The World Environmental Day is celebrated every June 5th but the organisers of event had decided to hold the event Friday because June 5th falls on a Sunday.
Speaking on the significance of the theme of this year’s celebration: “Go Wild for Life”, Mr. Ki-Moon said more attention needed to be paid on the illegal trade in Wildlife.
“There is grave cause for alarm. Elephants are being slaughtered for their ivory, rhinos for their horns, and pangolins for their scales. From sea turtles to tigers to rosewood, thousands of species of wild animals and plants are being driven ever closer to extinction,” he said.
The Secretary-General explained that those involved in this illegal trade are solely motivated by illicit financial gain at the expense the greater of the environment.
“The business and individuals involved are motivated solely by short-term gain at the expense of long-term benefit to communities and habitats. In many instances, they act in collusion with the transnational organised crime networks and groups actively involved in destabilising nations,” he said.
He therefore called on all to join the fight by the United Nation to stop the illicit trade and trafficking in wildlife.
“The campaign asks everyone to pledge to end the illegal trade in wildlife, from ordinary citizens, who can ensure they do not buy prohibited products, to governments, who can pursue change through implementing effective policies to protect species and ecosystems,” he said.
He said other countries should emulate Angola, which has pledged to ban illegal wildlife products, strengthen legislation and increase border control as part of a drive to restore elephant populations which were depleted during the country’s 27-year civil war.
“On this World Environmental Day, I urge people and government everywhere to overcome indifference, combat greed and act to preserve out natural heritage for the benefit of this and the future generations.”
Also speaking at the event attended by pupils of selected primary and secondary schools in the state, Iyabo Philips, the representative of the Lagos State Commissioner for Environment, Babatunde Adejare, advised people not to cut trees but instead plant trees. She said the Lagosians should not forget the directive of the government that 30 per cent of land area should be dedicated to the planting of trees.
Addressing the pupils, she said: “Children are the future of and children should protect wildlife. You should also tell your friends in school what you have learned here today. You should teach them to protect animals, and plants.”
She added that the State government has earmarked 14th July as the state’s Tree Planting Day. She said the state is four million short of the government’s 10 million tree target. She therefore called on Lagosians to plant more tress as it leads to better life with a supply of better air.
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