The federal government has initiated investigations into the seizure by the Vietnamese Customs Service of over 2,500 kilogrammes of pangolin scales and 600 kilogrammes of ivory tusks.
Minister of Environment, Suleiman Hassan Zarma, made this known while reacting to media reports on the seized items which are said to have high market values especially for the use of the pangolin scales as medicinal ingredients in parts of Asia, especially China.
“The ministry has initiated the investigation of the reported illegal trade by communicating officially with the Vietnamese and Hong Kong CITES Management Authority with a view of furnishing us with the documents that will be forwarded to the Nigerian Customs Service and INTERPOL for further investigation,” he stated.
“CITES implies the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. It is an international agreement between governments, which Nigeria is a party to. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Zarma said, a land surveyor, it was rather unsettling when he received the information that the Vietnamese Customs made the discovery in concealed containers declared as consigning knocked wood by the Vietnamese company – VIC Thanh Binh Import-Export Company Limited with office address at Lien Hong Commune, Dan Phuong District, Hanoi.
“More disturbing is the fact that Nigeria was mentioned as the source despite our laudable conservation efforts which informed our leading the war against illegal wildlife trade in the West African region,” he added.
He said that the source could not have been Nigeria as the pangolin is close to extinction in the country, adding that the elephant population in Nigeria, besides being under strict conservation regimes, would not be able to provide such high volume of ivory.
“Nigeria is being used as a transit route for illegal wildlife trade and the image of our nation is being tarnished globally,” he stressed.
Also being investigated are seizures by the Hong Kong Custom Service of 8,200 kilogrammes of pangolin scales and 2,000 kilogrammes of ivory said to have originated from the Apapa seaport in Lagos.No tags for this post.