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‘Proposed review of Games Reserves’ law not political’

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The general public has been advised not to see the move by the Federal Government to review the law establishing Games Reserves as political but in the general interest of all. The law is being pushed in order for parks owned by the state governments to be upgraded to national parks which is in the purview of the Federal Government.

This, the Conservator- General, National Park Service, Ibrahim Musa-Goni, said would enable the country to meet the 2030 sustainable development goals and lead to diversifying the economy, just as it would stem the tide of global warming. Speaking at the Annual Conference of Wildlife Society of Nigeria (WISON) held at the Federal University of Technology, (FUTA) Akure, Ondo State, Musa-Goni said there was need to create additional National Parks as the existing seven are not enough for the country. Musa-Goni said there were plans by the Federal Government to create additional game reserves or take over the existing Game Reserves from the state government in order to upgrade them to national parks. He said: “I said there are plans to upgrade theses games reserves to the status of national parks. It is just like we have in the health sector, we have a general hospital which can be upgraded to a teaching hospital.

“The plan is because of the global warming, there is a need to increase the acreage of forest cover. One way to do this is to increase the number of national parks. Presently, the national parks cover about 23,000 square kilometres. “If 10 additional parks can be created, the forest cover is going to increase to about 27 square kilometres, meaning that Nigeria will be able to increase her forest cover in line with the ICUN convention that every country should have 25 per cent of her land area under forest cover.

“In Nigeria at present, the destruction of natural habitats continues unabated, resulting in the depletion of the country’s wildlife resources. Several species of wildlife have been lost while some are threatened with extinction due to other factors such as climate change, human population, pollution, etc. “Nigeria has over 100 forest and Game Reserves across the country. Today the situation of these reserves leaves much to be desired.

This is the reason the few remaining wild animals maraud with no habitat to protect them. The cases of a colony of chimpanzee killed in Enugu, the elephants killed in Ondo and Kwara (Jebba), the marauding elephants in Ijebu Ode and the recent case of an elephant in Kebbi are fresh in mind.

“This is the challenge before WISON to articulate proper measures towards addressing these ugly trends. It is advised that the State Government should review the archaic wildlife laws in order to come up with effective protection and management policies for wildlife resources in the country to avert the indiscriminate and wanton killing of these species.

Musa-Goni who pushed for the review of the state laws that stipulated punishment for those that killed endangered species killing of an elephant attracts N50.00 fine which is a pat on the wrist for such grievous offence. In a remark, the Vice Chancellor of FUTA, Professor Joseph Fiwape urged wildlife scientists at the conference to device means of stopping the indiscriminate hunting of wild animals and burning of forests.

The National President of Wildlife Society of Nigeria, Prof. Ibukunoluwa Ayodele, said the theme of the conference, “achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs): the role of Wildlife”, was selected to work out how the government could earn revenues from ecotourism and Wildlife. Similarly, Dr Abiodun Ojo from the University of Maiduguri advised the public to stop deforestation. Ojo said WISON hoped that the state government should support conservation of wildlife resources of the State, as it would improve the ecotourists visit, increase state earnings and popularise the state amongst other benefits.

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