Monday, May 16, 2016

NAZG raises alarm over trafficking of wildlife …charges govt on collapsed zoos


ABUJA – The Nigerian Association of Zoological Gardens (NAZG) has raised alarm over increasing rate of trafficking of wild animals and birds from Nigeria, describing it as a big threat to tourism development in the country.  
The President of NAZG, Dr Olajumoke Morenikeji said wildlife had a lot of potentials to boost the country’s economy, but it was so unfortunate that they were being watched into extinction in the country.
Dr. Morenikeji, who was speaking in an interview with Vanguard in Abuja, called on the federal and state governments to resuscitate collapsed zoos across the country to improve tourism sector.
She attributed Jos scenario; where Lion escaped from Zoo to dilapidated state of Zoological Garden in the country, adding that a situation where Zoo-land are being taken for residential building portends danger to both human and wildlife.     
According g to her, “We want government to recognize the zoo, because the zoo are very important, it offers education and they tell about our environment and animals, and children get to learn a lot.

“What children see stick better into their brain than what they read, so the only place they can see wild animals is when they visit zoo. I have privilege to visit so many zoos in the world, I was able to see Tiger in Germany, Australia.

“Zoo is the most visited place on earth; government must do something about zoos because it actually generates a lot of monies as they are patronized heavily.

“Zoo helps us to ensure animals do not go on extinction. It is unfortunate, we are neglecting the part of tourism, and the only way to have our indigenous wildlife is to have zoo, for people to pay to watch the animals they don't have in their country, so when we keep them well, we will continue to generate more money through foreigners, because people we come to see what we have.

“Also, the Zoo will help us in research, let me tell you today, the only place you can do meaningful research with wildlife is the zoo. We cannot begin to pursue wild animal in the bush, but in the zoo, there is what we call face to face encounter with such animal.

“On the entertainment side, it’s a major part of tourism, so country who neglects the zoos is not doing well. So, I want the government to recognize the zoo and do something about collapsed zoos.

“The last time a lion escaped in Jos, and it was killed that is not good, the reason was that no funds to maintain the Zoo. A country that doesn't have interest in wildlife is not a good, buoyant and healthy country, because if we allow wildlife slip into oblivion gradually as they go extinct we also will go into extinction, because it’s an ecosystem and it must be balance.”
However, NAZG President decried paucity of funds, saying “One of the challenges we are facing is funding, our zoo is not funded well by the government that is why lion escaped, the structures are dilapidated. Zoo lands have been taken for residential building.”
She maintained that the association is ready to partner with government at all levels “to ensure the zoos are appreciated in the country.”
While commending the Lagos State Government for putting Zoo in Epe, Dr Morenikeji challenged other state governments to emulate Lagos state by investing into the development of wildlife and tourism at large.