The National Environmental Standard and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) has seized a lion (cub), arrested two men for illegal wildlife trading and handed the endangered cub to the National Park Service.
Speaking to journalists during an enforcement drive today (February 10), in Abuja, the team leader, NESREA’s director, environmental quality control, Mr. Ayuba Jacob, said Nigerians are prohibited from engaging in the illegal trade of wildlife, stressing the long arm of the law will always catch up with defaulters.
According to him, NESREA will continue apprehending wildlife traders who engage in the criminal act of trading endangered species in society.
“This animal species is a lion cub (a baby lion). It is one of the endangered species that is being prohibited from wildlife trade both locally and internationally as stated in the Endangered Species Act. It is the mandate of the agency to enforce these provisions and the purpose of the enforcement is to protect animal species, especially those that are endangered to prevent them from going extinct.
“This is an international criminal offence. There are no excuses in law. The offenders are going to be charged to court for the offence committed. We are making this effort to ensure that Nigeria will not be disgraced before the international communities not only in this particular animal species but other endangered species.
“We are always creating strong awareness for all our regulations including this, we use the media to create awareness regularly all over the country and this is to ensure that the awareness is effective. We normally educate people, especially hunters, we let them know that some animals need to be conserved for sustainable development. Such animals are going in great extinct; we are not seeing them again they have been taken away so they are made to be conserved.
“We ensure that we listed such animals to the hunters, not only animals even some trees such as iroko, mahogany trees among others. We call the species wildlife. Meanwhile, every Thursday is our awareness-creating day on various critical environmental regulations, just as what we are doing today,’’ he added.
Jacob, however, appreciated the effort of the Nigeria Police Force and some staff of the National Park Service who made it possible for the seizure of the cub and the arrest of the two traffickers, adding that the agency would continue to work with other relevant partners to ensure that those who engaged in the act would be apprehended appropriately.
He explained that Nigeria was a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
“We have the National Environmental Protection of Endangered Species in International Trade, Regulation 2011 and the Endangered Species Control of International Trade and Traffic (Amendment) Act, 2016,” he added.