Keynote Address Delivered by Mr. Elijah Udofia,Zonal Director, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency during the World Animal Day Organized by SARP on the Occasion of World Animal Day and Seminar for Hunters in Ibadan land

posted on Oct 7, 2021 by

The Chairman of this occasion, the Organisers of this event, Guest speakers, special dignitaries, ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to convey the special greetings and well wishes of my Director General/CEO Prof. Aliyu Jauro FCSN.
It gives me great pleasure to be part of this event, which is a seminar for hunters organised by SOCIETY FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS PROTECTION (SARP); The topic for this event: ‘’BEST HUNTING PRACTICES: PANACEA TO WILD ANIMALS SPECIES SUSTAINABILITY’’ is laudable, very relevant to the activities and a commendable initiative, as it is an avenue of taking the gospel of sustainable development to the grass-root. Therefore, NESREA is happy to associate itself with SARP and appreciate being invited to be part of this event.
Wildlife traditionally refers to undomesticated animal species, but has come to include all organisms that grow or live wild in an area without being introduced by humans. Wildlife can be found in all ecosystemsan areas, all have distinct forms of wildlife. While the term in popular culture usually refers to animals that are untouched by human factors, most scientists agree that much wildlife is affected by human activities.
Global wildlife populations have decreased by 68% since 1970 as a result of human activity, particularly overconsumption, population growth and intensive farming, according to a 2020 World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report and the Zoological Society of London’s Living Planet Index measure, which is further evidence that humans have unleashed a sixth mass extinction event. According to CITES, it has been estimated that annually the international wildlife trade amounts to billions of dollars and it affects hundreds of millions of animal and plant specimen

The average Nigerian’s love for bushmeat is legendary. It is so serious that on sighting any wild animal, thoughts of the cooking pot take centre stage! It is a common sight to see young men ‘excavating’ large expanses of land in the quest to trap rats; not to mention the yearly indiscriminate bush burning activities in the hunt for wildlife.
For almost a century, Nigerians have been hunting animals as a source of protein and the resources are fast depleting, due to the excessive pressure on wildlife. Yes, the argument is that bushmeat is healthier because of its low level of fat, but the question remains, how can we keep the supply fresh? Researchers estimate that about half a million tonnes of bushmeat are killed every year in Nigeria. The danger is that if animals continued to be hunted with such reckless abandon, especially large mammals that have slow rates of reproduction, many of these animals would become extinct in a few decades. It is important to note that some species of wild animals that were abundant a few decades ago have become very difficult to come by. Two decades ago, when journeying through Nigeria, you were always greeted with the sight of cheap bushmeat for sale at almost every stop, but these days, it is scarce and very expensive. Local hunters in Ogori, a community in Kogi State, would regale you with tales of how it was so easy to hunt when they were younger because bushmeat was abundant.
In developed nations, wildlife preservation is taken very seriously. Hunting is regulated and people are encouraged to treat animals with respect. Even fashionist as who crave the luxury of fur coats and other fur or animal skin related fashion items have to make do with man-made fur, while the indiscriminate killing of wildlife is a grievous offence that attracts jail sentences. As a result of this, the population of wild animals, especially endangered species that were on the brink of extinction, has rebounded. The situation has so improved in some developed nations that authorities have resorted to culling in order to control the explosive multiplication of these animals and maintain the desired ecosystem. Another angle to it is that these nations have put measures in place to ensure that the ecosystem is undisturbed.
While it is impossible to totally ban hunting in Nigeria, it is important for us to adopt measures that will help preserve our wildlife. Government and non-governmental organizations must strive to be of assistance in this quest. In Kenya for instance, Masaai herdsmen regularly killed lions which attacked their herds, but this practice was stopped when an NGO took the pains to pay the herdsmen for every cow that was killed by lions.
A very effective weapon of fighting this battle is for government to carry out a mass campaign on the need for hunters to regulate their activities. In fact, in some countries, it is the duty of government to declare days appointed for hunting activities, as well as the number of animals permitted to be killed. It would also not be too much for government to create incentives that will encourage rural dwellers to heed the need for moderation.
Furthermore, as a nation, we can explore other means of getting protein. According to experts, about 90 per cent of the fish consumed in Nigeria is imported. This means there is big market for fish farming and as such, people should be encouraged to invest in that area.
The harrowing effects of bush burning during hunting activities are abysmal. It should be tackled with all vigour. Apart from causing the death of many animals, it also destroys the ecosystem and makes it almost impossible for wildlife to recover fully, as both the trees and green shrubs the animals need are destroyed.
We must of necessity catch up with the rest of the world in preserving precious wildlife and literally, not eat up our future today.

NESREA, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, an Agency of the Federal Ministry of Environment charged with the responsibility for the protection and development of the environment, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development of Nigeria’s natural resources has gazetted 33 National Environmental regulations which cut across different sectorial groupings. Some of which are the National Environmental (Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing) Regulations, S. I. No. 30, 2009, National Environmental (Control of Bush/Forest Fire and Open Burning) Regulations, S. I. No. 15, 2011. and National Environmental (Protection of Endangered Species in International Trade) Regulations, S. I. No. 16, 2011 which are relevant to wild animal species sustainability.
Copies of these regulations are on our website and can be downloaded free of charge
It is worthy to note that the implementation of these regulations is carried out by all stakeholders; ie Regulators, NGOS such as SARP and individuals in the society.
They Agency also in collaboration with Officers of the Nigerian Customs Service stationed at the borders and sea/air ports of the country, have been arresting illegal traffickers of some species of wild fauna and flora, who violated the CITES regulation and the CITES convention which Nigeria is a signatory to. Hunting for domestic or export should not be done in an unsustainable manner that will bring about their extinction. Even the natural law of intergenerational justice (which is the reason for sustainable development) requires that we do things (in this case -hunt) in a sustainable way so that our children can also have access to these animals in the future.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, on this note I would like to conclude by appreciating the organisers of this event once again, guest speakers and the participants, especially the hunters for coming here to discuss this important issue, and I would also like to assure you of the Agency’s readiness to partner and collaborate with all relevant stakeholders in ensuring Biodiversity Conservation, and also in meeting the other Sustainable Development Goals in the country.

Thank you and God bless.

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