Govt. urged to pay attention to zoos, wildlife
Members of the Nigeria Association of Zoological Gardens (NAZG) has called on government at all levels in the country to pay serious attention to the funding and maintenance of the zoos and wildlife especially with a view to introducing basic technology given their economic and environmental importance.
The group said noted that the recent lion escape from Jos Wildlife Park and Zoological Garden and its subsequent killing by a group of people has brought the poor state of wildlife parks and zoological gardens across the country to the spotlight.
Speaking with journalists on the fact finding panel into the incident by the group, the National Secretary of NAZG, Andy Ehanire, revealed that the result has shown that weakness in the enclosure of the lion may have led to it escape.
‘‘In the course of our preliminary investigations, it became obvious that materials fatigue in the construction of the lion enclosure is prime suspect as to the main cause leading to the escape,’’ disclosed Ehanire who is also the manager of Ogba Zoo, Benin City, Edo.
He added that the incident has revealed the underbelly of zoos and wildlife parks in the country, which he said have become obsolete due to their ages and the lack of maintenance and modernisation through advanced technological improvement as is the case in other climes where these tourist centres are taken seriously.
‘‘It was equally necessary to unravel the circumstances of the lion escape, as to getting the precise explanation for the incident. There is always the need to know if the incident was avoidable and the lessons to be learnt by both the management of the facility in question as well as other practitioners in the same line of duty, or as far as stakeholders would seek to know.
“Once the panel’s report is made available to us, the Executive Committee of NAZG would request to schedule a meeting with the authorities of the park to discuss the issues arising therein. In the final analysis, the urgent repositioning of Jos Wildlife Park, along with other zoos in the country, remains the continuing focus of NAZG.’’
Ehanire said with the neglect visited on these natural centres that NAZG is calling on the government to implement some of the recommendations, which were presented through a memo in 2012 to the National Council on Tourism meeting held in Ilorin, Kwara State, “where it was advocated for priority to be given to these recreational centres through the national tourism master plan and the national tourism intervention fund in order to ensure a front-line attention and funding for them.”
Furthermore, Ehanire explained that there is need to include conservation study or awareness in the curriculum of schools and seek for ways to engage the teeming population of youths in the country even as he insisted that ‘‘this incident in Jos Wildlife Park is thus another wake up call for the authorities in conservation and tourism development to engage the developmental challenges in this key sector that also provides a veritable parameter for measuring a humane society.’’