Nigerian environmentalists combat wildlife crime

Nigerian environmentalists combat wildlife crime

In the backyard of Nigerian conservationist and educator Chinedu Mugbo, what started as a small place of refuge for threatened and endangered animals in 2012 has grown into an educational wildlife sanctuary with nearly 200 rescued animals.

Rescued animals are rehabilitated and eventually released back into the wild.

Mugbo has been very interested in animals since he was a little boy and was excited to visit the ‘Animal Markets’ with his father. Although he did not know at the time that these animals were sold as pets, used for rituals and further endangered Nigerian wildlife, but these were the only places Mugbu could go to see the animals as a child.

Now he visits these markets to rescue the animals that are still alive and bring them to the Greenfingers Wildlife Sanctuary. Mogbo believes wildlife crime is able to rise because wildlife conservation is not seen as a priority, and through innovative education on the reserve he seeks to change this.

“The animals were trapped together, and you would see the dead ones lying in the middle of the animals that were already there. No one really cared what was happening to them, they just let it rot. The people who were alive were at the so-called ‘pet market,’ but then There is another market that I didn’t even know existed in Nigeria, the “wet market”. Here, I would see new animals, but not live ones, these were dead animals being sold for meat. Basically every kind of animal was there on the tables for food.”

That bell tolled that something was wrong with the system in Nigeria was what prompted the establishment of a sanctuary where a range of animals – from reptiles and turtles to mammals, small birds and large birds – are housed and rehabilitated.

Mugbo and his team are now looking for any surviving animals in these places and giving them another home before slaughtering them.

In an interview with Daily MaverickMujbu said these markets and the decline of wildlife in Nigeria thrive off the mindset of most Nigerians that wildlife conservation is not a priority. He said this was initially echoed by his parents, who wanted him to study medicine in the UK rather than follow the path of veterinary studies.

If you educate young people, they will not grow up with the mentality that they have to eat animals.

Mugbo stuck to their wishes and studied biomedical sciences, then went on to pursue a master’s degree in public health, but when he returned to Nigeria in 2012, he returned to his true passion and started a wildlife sanctuary in his backyard, initially working only with birds, especially sparrows. . This has grown into the Greenfingers Wildlife Sanctuary, with support from Green Fingers Wildlife Conservation Initiative.

“We’ve also now started responding to cases where an animal is in trouble or has been seen somewhere. Then we go out there and get that animal out safely.”

They have started working with the authorities and the police to rescue and protect the animals, but there are still issues with the police not knowing which animals are endangered or threatened. At the end of the day, Mugbo believed this was why conservation studies should be taught properly in schools, so that young people and members of the community can gain an understanding of the biodiversity around them and why it is important to conserve it.

Nigerian activist Chinedu Mugbo released a turtle back into the ocean after it was rehabilitated at Greenfingers Wildlife Sanctuary. The turtle suffered from swallowing large quantities of microplastics in the ocean. (Image: Wild Africa Fund)

Nigerian conservationist Chinedu Mugbo inspects a rehabilitated tortoise before it is returned to the ocean at Greenfingers Wildlife Sanctuary. (Image: Wild Africa Fund)

Children from schools in surrounding communities often frequent the Greenfingers Wildlife Sanctuary as part of an effort to increase education about wildlife conservation in Nigeria. (Image: Wild Africa Fund)

Creative ways to conserve wildlife

The shelter eventually moved to the wetland area behind the school where Mujbu taught. This facility has continued to grow and over the years has been opened to the public and surrounding schools to increase education about the need for wildlife conservation in Nigeria. Mujbu said there is an urgent need for rigorous and up-to-date environmental conservation studies in schools.

“Nigeria needs more conservation heroes. We can’t get enough. We bring children from different schools to the sanctuary where they learn about animals… If you educate young people, they won’t grow up with the mentality that they have to eat animals. The first question that comes up is Is this not an endangered species?

Read more at The Daily Maverick: “Local people hold the key to wildlife conservation” – Ndlelendi Ncube is changing how rural communities see the zim of nature

On campus, they use every possible means to see how students can learn – by working with animals, sports, art, and even fashion.

“The Trashion Show is a way for young people to stay connected with nature, be social about it, and have fun while doing it. What we do is we go to the beach, clean up the beach, and bag all the plastic there. We also go to our communities and neighborhoods and collect the plastic there.” Then we come together to create artwork and costumes out of plastic and other trash materials — that is, “garbage.”

Mogbo said they spend a lot of time thinking about patterns, and even use the New York Met Gala as a source of inspiration for creating patterns using plastic. Then they take it to the “runway” in malls and malls where people gather to raise awareness and start a series of conversations about the need for conservation, what this plastic waste is doing to the ecosystem and how it destroys and affects wildlife.

Nigerian activist Chinedu Mugbo releases a rehabilitated turtle into the ocean. (Image: Wild Africa Fund)

Children from schools in surrounding communities at Greenfingers Wildlife Sanctuary. (Image: Wild Africa Fund)

Nigerian activist Chinedu Mugbo releases a rehabilitated turtle into the ocean. (Image: Wild Africa Fund)

Fighting wildlife and forest crime in Nigeria

In the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime in Nigeria, It stated that the importance of combating wildlife crime should not be underestimated and that the country had emerged as a major source, destination and transit country for the illegal international trade in wildlife over the past decade.

It is recognized here that tackling wildlife crime is often overlooked and not prioritized, and a five-year target is set that by 2026, Nigeria will have made visible progress in reducing wildlife crime, while the law enforcement and justice system Criminal has the necessary capabilities and legal framework to address wildlife crime effectively and collaboratively. DM

To read all about The Gathering: Earth Edition recently published by the Daily Maverick, click here here.


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