As the law enforcement agents, especially Nigeria Custom Service intensify battle against the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) in Nigeria, a 3-day national training workshop was organized between December 14-16, 2021, in Abuja on Combatting Illegal Trade and Trafficking of Vulture and other Wildlife targeted at Law Enforcement Agencies including Border Control Agencies. The training focused on practicalities and best practices in strengthening Enforcement, Investigation, and Intelligence towards combatting wildlife crime.
A total of 45 participants drawn from Nigeria Custom Service, National Park Services, National Drug law Enforcement Agencies, Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Department of Forestry and CITES Management Authority, Federal Ministry of Justice etc. It was a participatory hybrid training workshop that combine delivering presentation via online zoom platform alongside physically facilitating a total of 11 modules aligned to the Enforcement, Investigation, and Intelligence thematic area. While all participants were physically residential throughout the training, one of the highpoints for participants was a module on Live Seizure Handling and Best Practices in Nigeria.
In his presentation, Mr John Timothy Daniel of Department of Forestry, Federal Ministry of Environment revealed that Nigeria is the first among the African countries to be signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora in 1974. This led to enactment of Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1985. This NCF was instrumental to.
He said, “the objectives of ESA are to protect endangered species of animals and plants; ensure that threatened species of animals are safe in their natural habitats.”
Meanwhile, in her presentation on behalf of the Nigeria Custom Service, Mrs. Abimbola Animashaun said “the best practice in intelligence gathering for illegal wildlife trade enforcement in Nigeria is collective effort. So, let’s put aside inter-agency rivalry, improve on existing collaboration, maximise the strength in our diversity as stakeholders with some mission and vision for Nigeria, to allow information flow, timely intelligence dissemination, to support and ease the work of enforcement, investigation and prosecution to achieve the set objective. This will end illegal wildlife trade or crime.”
In his presentation titled “Nigeria’s Effort in Tackling Illegal Trade in Vulture Parts and Belief-based Use”, Dr. Joseph Onoja, Director of Technical Programme at NCF, revealed that at the inception of NCF intervention on African Vulture Crisis in 2017, it was estimated that about 5 tons of Vulture comprising of 4 species (Hooded, Lappet-faced, White backed, and Egyptian Vultures) are illegally traded in 13 wildlife markets across Nigeria with an estimate of about 5 tons per quarter at the inception of this project.
However, NCF together with other stakeholders have been promoting what is called ‘plant-based alternatives.’ He said “We are engaging with Traditional Healers Association in Nigeria in finalizing a Plant-based Alternative Guide for Traditional Healers. Some of the plants discovered in South-West Nigeria are ewe sikinrinmidin, eso werejeje etc.”
In a similar vein, as a follow up to the World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) celebrated in October 2021, in Nigeria WMBD was conducted by NCF in Lagos, Ibadan, Kano and Nguru. During the period, lectures, essay and drawing competitions were organized for students in post primary school in the mentioned locations.
In Kano State, ten students from eight secondary schools participated in the drawing competition. The students drew an Egyptian Vulture one of the migratory bird species that is rare in the country. Prior to this, lectures were presented to the participants on the significance of migratory birds in the ecosystem, the need to protect them and role that each member of the society can play to protect the species.
Goodwill messages were presented by the government officials and traditional leaders that graced the occasion urging students and their parents to be conscious of how they interact and harness resources from the environment. Prize was given to the winners of the competition.
In Nguru, Yobe State, 40 Junior and Senior Secondary School Students drawn from 10 Secondary Schools within Nguru participated in the competition held at Reality Model School, Low-cost Estate, Nguru on Saturday November 27th. Prizes were also presented/given to students that show outstanding performance. In order to increase publicity and raise more awareness about the events, stakeholders from different works of lives including the media attended the event.
The 2021 WMBD tagged “sing, fly, soar – Like a Bird” was commemorated in Ibadan, Oyo State as a sub-component of the EV Communications and Advocacy Plan under the EV-New Life Project in alignment with the annual global campaign dedicated to the celebration of birds and nature, raising awareness of migratory birds and highlighting the need for international cooperation to conserve them. The programme held at the Auditorium of the Department of Wildlife & Ecotourism Management, Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, University of Ibadan on 16th December 2021, featured debate & on-the-spot drawing competitions among 10 selected Secondary Schools with functional School Biodiversity Conservation Clubs in Ibadan.
World Migratory Bird Day is an annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. It has a global outreach and is an effective tool to help raise global awareness of the threats faced by migratory birds, their ecological importance, and the need for international cooperation to conserve them.
Every year people around the world take action and organize public events such as bird festivals, education programmes, exhibitions and bird-watching excursions to celebrate the day.
The participants at the workshop identified some Action Plan for Intelligence, Investigation, and Enforcement. The workshop and WMBD is co-sponsored by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Egyptian Vulture New Life project.
Report by: Oladapo Soneye