So just a few minutes ago, I read another story of how a hunter, in this same Delta state, butchered a Gorilla (the blogsite says it is a gorilla but I think it was a chimpanzee) and I am beginning to get worried about this trend towards the destruction of our Environment and Wildlife.
This is the funny part, there was a supposed "Delta Beyond Oil Initiative" some years ago that was setup to divest the state of its dependene on oil based revenue. The project was estimated to cost NGN40 billion (over $250Million) back then o (I think 2012/2013 and was expected to be completed by December 2014. Very reliable source, has it that this project actually started but it just never finished (some of our never ending stories in Nigeria) and you know what? It was supposed to have a wildlife park and resort! Is this not very funny? Maybe the commissioner went scouting for animals for the park but did not read the last line, animals should be brought in ALIVE! When no be wildlife mortuary...
I do not write this to sound funny or to just talk about Delta state. Unfortunately, it is the "acts of ignorance" from this state that have been reported recently. Therefore it might look like this is about Delta but it is not. These "acts of ignorance", goes on in most part of Nigeria, even in Lagos, where 2 years ago, we had to pay some touts at Chevron roundabout some money to buy off a Sea Turtle (that is on the list of endangered species) so we could save it from being purchased to make an "exotic" meal or juju as I heard. During the day o, with policemen less than 200 meters away. Yet, we will see the Lagos state government, promoting and planting trees to show their concerns about the environment, we would hear of Chevron committing funds to protect the environment but right under their noses, the people that these campaigns should affect, still carry out acts that continue to fuel the problem at such an alarming rate. This points to the fact that there is a disconnect between these initiatives, policies and what really goes on around. This is the same situation with our dear Country Nigeria, which shows itself as a supporter of the United Nations on matters relating to conserving the environment but that is where it usually ends... The papers, the senate, with the ministry and of course our very wise Commissioner!.
FACT: There are laws protecting Nigerian forestry, wildlife and protected areas and it is a crime/offence to keep or destroy them. I am sure Mr. Commissioner for Environment in Delta know this (psyche!).
There is an urgent need for a realistic approach to sustainable development which goes beyond just creating awareness. This is important because awareness and "tree planting", and our presence in the United Nation on matters relating to the environment are good but cannot be enough. These problem of poor approach, just like those in other cases in Nigeria are very unique to us (I mean our insincerity to making things work, our non commitment to research on our challenges and solutions, and of course a very scary depth and level of ignorance). Planting trees does not answer the questions of that rural woman that needs to feed and therefore uses firewood. She just cannot afford it. Awareness does not stop that hunter with 5 children with extremely basic needs, from killing the Gorilla (I strongly think it is a Chimpanzee). He needs to take care of his home and responsibilities. So a hunter must hunt and our basic needs must be met but I am sure we can ensure there is a good balance. For example, I read that there are hunting limits and season in some communities, that way, in hunting season, you pay premium. So the hunter makes more money in a short period, there is more game to hunt and he can sustain himself and his own for a longer period (possibly commiting to other things during off season). Other communities come up with innovative ways to empower their people in such a way that they can meet their basic needs, so they do not depend on the destruction of the environment to surive. This is usually when the story of Conservation can sound like you are making sense! Person never chop, you talk say make him no cut tree or kill bush meat? How??? But that Commissioner matter no follow this reasoning o...
Imagine If this "Gorilla" or Python were kept in a protected area, with an agreement that proceeds from visitors would be used to fund projects in the communities where they were collected from, I am sure their benefits would be more sustainable than the quick benefits to the hunter and of course, our lovely commissioner (what was his benefit for killing the snake?). And we go dey talk say Nigeria no better? How na? Do we have an idea of how much in dollars was made on Octopus Paul during and after the World Cup? It was in a Zoo (you will buy ticket to enter), they made souvenirs (you will buy), the media hype, people even placed bets on its predictions (baba ijebu, nairabet and ko... Just imagine that the "Gorilla" could give sure numbers LOL, but we will never know right, awa Nigerian hunter, she haf come and kill the animal! Question the norm...
It is this same approach we have to everything we do... Eat the plant, its seed and turn the farm you found it to an estate! No history, no future... Yet we hear the stories, great rhetoric jams, being repeated over and over, funds being committed, like water being poured in a basket, on the things we claim to be doing. We have no sector that is working, except our very sustainable corruption sector... What a shame!
Conservation and true sustainable development comes at a price but it is possible and unfortunately, we have no choice but to get it right. We just have to!!! I believe we need to dig deep, be innovative and daring to make a difference as the joke will always be on us and humanity because truly and at the long run, NATURE DOES NOT NEED PEOPLE... WE NEED NATURE!
Guest Post: Koyejo Sofoluwe (Kingfishers ECo)
Guest Post: Koyejo Sofoluwe (Kingfishers ECo)
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