The minister of state environment, Ibrahim Jibril has disclosed that the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) intercepted illegal wildlife pangolin and tusks worth N1.2billion from 15th February to 22nd March this year.
Jibril stated this in Abuja at a one-day workshop on combating illegal wildlife trade and sensitisation on convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora, organized by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in collaboration with the ministry.
According to him, “On 15th February, the NCS intercepted and seized 55 sacks of pangolin and 218 pieces of elephant tusks worth N493, 520,000 and in less than a month, another 329 sacks of pangolins scale weighing 8,492kg valued at N732, 857,393 were also intercepted”.
He said that the wildlife species and its habitats have been subjected to enormous pressure through over exploitation, trade and irrational use to such an extent that many are currently threatened.
Jibril who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mallam Shehu Ahmed regretted that Nigeria is used as a transit route for illegal wildlife trade thereby destroying the image of the country.
He maintained that federal government is taking necessary steps and measures to protect and promote sustainable use of the terrestrial ecosystem, sustain forest management, combat desertification, land degradation and loss of biodiversity.
The minister promised to reverse the illegal trafficking which he lamented is capable of destroying Nigeria’s rich biodiversity and denying the country the full realisation of its economic potentials.
He stated that the disappearance of many high grade timber species like Iroko, ebony, brown mahogany, African oak and among others is worrisome.
“The state department of forestry is now searching endlessly to be able to find some of these species through what is now regarded as tree exploitation or salvage logging,” he said.
He also informed that the ministry has programmes that constitute the framework for a dynamic and evolving process for co-operation among stakeholders.
Jibril described the programmes as catalysts for involvement of the entire society and a reference point for all agents involved in the conservation of nature in order to ensure environmental sustainability in the country.
In his presentation, Mr Paul Dunn of Wildlife Conservative Society (WCS) noted that the workshop was meant to discuss the menace of illegal wildlife trade and urgent actions needed to address the problems.