Stakeholders in the conservation of wildlife in Nigeria have called for the deployment of cutting-edge technology, such as drones and GIS mapping, in tackling illegal wildlife activities.
The stakeholders also proffered effective network and training of personnel in the wildlife sector so as to enhance their performances.
They spoke in Abuja, at a two-day workshop on use of modern techniques in combating wildlife crime.
The workshop was organized by the National Park Service in collaboration with the Attorney General Alliance- Africa Programme (AGA-AFRICA).
In a welcome, AGA-Africa’s International Advisor, Mr John Edozie, observed that Nigeria and the world have in recent times witnessed an alarming surge in the illegal wildlife trade.
He said that the surge was being aided by advancements in technology.
“Disturbingly, data from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) website highlights Nigeria’s involvement in trafficking significant quantities of ivory and pangolin scales. Specifically, more than 49,000 kg of ivory and 161,000 of pangolin scales, which has resulted in the death of 7,400 elephants and hundreds of thousands of pangolins.
“Such illicit activities not only pose a severe threat to our planet’s biodiversity, with pangolin populations declining by up to 80% in certain parts of Africa, but also erode the foundations of the rule of law, foster corruption, and fund criminal enterprises”, he said.
He added: “To address this global crisis effectively, we must equip ourselves with the most advanced tools and strategic approaches available. This entails embracing cutting-edge technology such as drones, GIS mapping, and DNA analysis to confront the threats posed by poaching and the illegal wildlife trade head-on. ”
Edozie, however, pointed out that success in combating wildlife crimes did not solely rely on technology, but was hinged on networks that facilitated regional and international collaboration, including the sharing of intelligence.
He pointed out that, “Just as criminals operate without regard for borders, so must we — to make it increasingly difficult for traffickers to find safe havens.”
He also stated that training programmes, such as the one being held, played a crucial role in empowering those on the frontlines.
“We are thus glad, as the AGA-Africa Programme, to lend our support to this endeavour through the facilitation of this workshop, ensuring that we can fight wildlife crimes much more aggressively and effectively.
“As a non-profit organisation, the AGA-Africa Programme is dedicated to promoting the rule of law, strengthening legal systems, and fostering collaboration among criminal justice actors across the African continent.
“This involves providing training programs, technical assistance, and resources to enhance legal expertise when it comes to tackling transnational crimes like cybercrime, money laundering, wildlife trafficking, and other cross-border offences in Africa. Currently, the AGA-Africa Programme is active in West, East and Southern Africa, “he added.
The Assistant Conservator-General, National Park Abuja, Mohammed Kabir, observed that the workshop was apt because it was coming at a time the service needed it most.
Kabir said further that the training would enhance the capacity of park officials in combating illegal trafficking in wildlife, which he put between N7 billion and N10 billion.
Besides wildlife, Kabir raised the alarm about the increase in cases of illegal logging and grazing, which according to him, contributed to the illicit wildlife activities.
The Assistant Conservator-General, therefore, called for the arrest and prosecution of all those involved in these illegal activities.