A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) has advocated for tougher punishments for poachers of vultures in Nigeria.
The NGO made the call on Saturday, at a programme, tagged, “Community sensitisation on declining population of vultures” to raise awareness on the environmental implications of killing vultures.
The programme, organised to mark the 2020 “World Migratory Bird Day” was held at the palace of the Baale (village head) of Idonna-Ilugun in Atan, Ijebu North-East Local Government of Ogun.
The organisation which is dedicated to nature conservation and sustainable development in Nigeria, lamented that, if urgent steps were not taken by the Federal government to address the indiscriminate hunting of vultures, the birds will soon go into extinction.
It said that the rising demand for vultures for local herbs and rituals had made the birds one of the most endangered animals in Africa, particularly Nigeria.
Representatives of the NGO from the Omo Forest Reserve in area J4 in Ijebu-Igbo met with Community leaders, market women, hunters, traditional medical practitioners of the village with the aim of raising awareness about plant-based alternatives to vulture parts.
Speaking on behalf of the NGO, Mr Emmanuel Olabode said the foundation is embarking on tour of communities in the state to sensitise people on the need for the preservation of vultures with the aim of reviving the declining population of the endangered birds.
Olabode stressed the important role vultures play in the environment, while describing the birds as “nature’s sanitary workers who keep the earth clean by feeding on decaying carcasses of animals thereby preventing the spread of communicable diseases”.
Olabode also listed deforestation and illegal tree felling as some of the factors responsible for the endangerment of vultures.
“There is urgent need for government to strengthen the wildlife life protection law by proposing stiffer punishments for violators of the law.
“The wildlife is being destroyed everyday by the activities of wild animals poachers and those involved in illegal tree felling thereby exposing our environment to grave dangers,” he said.
In his response, the baale of the village, Chief E.O Fatade said killing of vultures in Yorubaland is a taboo “but because of the greediness of some people, poaching of vultures became a money making business”.
He urged government at all levels and other organisations involved in nature conservation to intensify the advocacy against destruction of wildlife.
The village head also appealed to the people to desist from killing of vultures and other endangered animals.