Conservationist at the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) raised the alarm last week at a stakeholders’ workshop on wildlife trafficking in Akure, themed: “Save Africa’s Vulture.”
Experts and observers noted that Nigerian vultures are going into extinction as a result of its use for ritual purposes, according to the latest assessment in Ondo, Osun and Ogun states.
The decline in vultures’ population is becoming alarming, as approximately 500 tonnes are trafficked monthly ending up as derivatives used in traditional medicine. The bird is widely sourced from Northern Nigeria to meet the demands in Southwest Nigeria for traditional medicinal purposes.
The NCF Director-General, Mr. Adeniyi Karunwi, said that the extinction of vultures and other wildlife in the country would lead to more endemic outbreaks, describing them as special creatures for the survival of mankind.
Karunwi said NCF and other organizations in Africa, with support from BirdLife International, have been working to advocate the protection of vulture and other endangered wildlife that are commonly traded at local and international markets.
Prof. George Ogunjemite of the Department of Ecotourism and Wildlife Management, Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), said “all over the world, vultures serve as nature’s vital clean up crew, resist toughest bacteria, viruses and prevent spread of diseases and epidemic caused by animal corpses.”
He listed habitat loss, poisoning, hunting, large market for traditional medicine, poachers, effects of poisoned predators by cattle rearers are major threats against the conservation of cultures.
The stakeholders, collectively, blamed government for poor legislation on the conservation of wildlife, noting that there is failure in the effective implementation of extant laws to protect them.
“We urge, as a matter of urgency, that the curriculum should be revised to include relevant aspects of wildlife preservation and conservation in the educational syllabi from elementary to tertiary institutions. We demand active communal participation in the advocacy among traditional institutions, religious leaders, transport unions, peer groups etc,” they said.