Minister of Environment, Ibrahim Jibril has said that the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) intercepted illegal wildlife pangolin and tusks worth about N1.2 billion between Feb.15 and March 22 this year.
Jibril spoke at a one-day workshop on combating illegal wildlife trade and sensitization on convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora.
The workshop was organised by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Environment in Abuja.
The minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mallam Shehu Ahmed, said: “On Feb.15, the Nigerian Customs intercepted and seized 55 sacks of pangolin and 218 pieces of Elephant tusks worth N493, 520,000.00 and in less than a month latter another 329 sacks of pangolins scale weighing 8,492kg valued at N732, 857,393.00.
“The wildlife animals and the habitats they occupy have since been subjected to enormous pressure through over exploitation, trade and irrational use, to the extent that many are now threatened.
“But even more worrisome is the fact that Nigeria is being used as a transit route for illegal wildlife trade and the image of our nation being destroyed,’’ he stressed.
He said that the government was taking necessary steps and measures to protect and promote sustainable use of the terrestrial ecosystem.
“And as well sustain forest management, combat desertification, land degradation and loss of biodiversity.
“I am highly delighted to address you on this important workshop and the ministry is highly impressive by your prompt response to this call to national duty.
“We will all make efforts to reverse a trend that is capable of destroying Nigeria’s rich biodiversity, denying our nation the full realization of its economic development potential.
’’ According to him, the disappearance of many high grade timber species like Iroko, Ebony, Brown Mahogany, African Oak and host of others was worrisome.
“The State Department of forestry is now searching endlessly to be able to find some of these species through what is now regarded as tree exploitation or salvage logging,’’ he added.
He stated that, the ministry has programmes that constitute the framework for a dynamic, evolving process for cooperation among stakeholders.
“These programmes are catalysts for involvement of entire society and point of reference for all agents involved in the process of conservation of nature to ensure environmentally sustainable development in the country.