The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) says illegal wildlife trade across the world is estimated to worth about 19 billion U.S. dollars.
The Director-General of NCF, Mr Adeniyi Karunwi, said this in Abuja.
He said that there was a booming illegal wildlife trade across the globe which was run by highly organised networks, adding that the development had threatened the current and future state of the world’s natural resources.
He underscored the need to raise the people’s awareness on the vital role which the foundation and rangers at national parks worldwide played in protecting the world’s natural and cultural treasures.
“NCF has been part of the global voice to mobilise support for environmental protection to enhance better protection of wildlife, forests and the natural world. Rangers are the first line of defence in the battle against illegal wildlife trade and they stand between the poachers and the forests every day. Without rangers, most of the last remaining iconic species such as elephants, lions and rhinoceros, among others, would have since vanished from the wild,’’ he said.
Karunwi said that rangers were always outdoors every day conducting patrol operations to combat poaching and monitor wildlife, adding that they were exposed to harsh and dangerous conditions, often with inadequate equipment.
“A lot of rangers spend weeks, sometimes months, away from their loved ones, and some don’t have access to electricity or clean drinking water when they are on patrol. Therefore, there is the need to systematically reflect on the working conditions of the rangers to better understand how the rangers feel about their work, in terms of their concerns, challenges, rewards and motivation. We should celebrate the courage, bravery, gallantry and commitment of rangers as people in the frontline of conservation efforts and, perhaps, the most important protectors of the world’s natural and cultural treasures,’’ he said.
Karunwi, however, called on all stakeholders to concertedly make efforts to safeguard the natural world, while boosting the public awareness of the protected areas and other salient conservation issues.
“Any strategy to stop wildlife crime should start with bolstering grassroots conservation, with the rangers in the frontline. It should also encompass influencing governments for policy changes to help protect endangered species and people threatened by wildlife crime. The task of protecting our wildlife, wild places, forests and other cultural treasures that we explore is enormous and calls for the active involvement of all of us,’’ he said.