Nigeria and China are set to strengthen bilateral relations to tackle illegal wildlife trade in line with the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
This was the high point of a meeting between the delegations of the two countries, led by the Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, the Minister of State for Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor, and the representatives of Chinese CITIES Management Authority (CMA).
Dr. Mahmood Abubakar emphasized on the need for the two countries to work together towards addressing the cancerous issue of illegal International wildlife trade, which traffickers have exploited and exposed the nations to.
While reiterating Nigeria’s commitment to the fight against illegal wildlife trade, the Minister of State, Sharon Ikeazor noted that Nigeria joined other 182 nations to sign and ratify the International Convention on CITIES in 1974 and to give municipal credence to this Convention, Nigeria promulgated the Endangered Species Decree No. 11 in 1985, which is now enacted as Endangered Species Act 2016.
She reaffirmed the Ministry’s role as the focal point of CITIES implementation in Nigeria and its commitment to conserving wild species which she observed, were now almost driven into extinction due to over exploitation, habitat change and illicit trafficking.
Ikeazor opined that National Parks were established across the country to safeguard the surviving endangered species.
She called on the delegation to visit at least one before departing the country to enable them to have a firsthand experience on Nigeria’s effort at safeguarding the species.
The Minister assured that the Federal Government of Nigeria would continue to put measures in place to make sure that enforcement, compliance and implementation measures are strengthened in the country.
Ikeazor commended China for taking the lead role in the preservation of wildlife, with all kinds of species and thanked the Chinese National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NAFGA) for supporting Nigeria’s manpower development in the compliance and implementation of wildlife management and CITES policy.
The Chinese Team Leader and NAFGA Vice Administrator, Li Shumings, recognized the valued partnership with Nigeria and assured that more efforts would be made by the Chinese government to prioritise the bilateral relationship in wildlife conservation.
Shuming stated that the Chinese Government was paying more attention to wildlife preservation by setting up the National Park Authority, adding that they have 10 National Parks in their country to strengthen their effort, with plans to increase the number in future. Currently, China has about 1,864 pandas and 293 elephants in these parks.