The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) has advised potential importers of reptiles and other wild animals to obtain CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) certificates.
Speaking in Abuja, Dr Vincent Isegbe, the Coordinating Director of NAQS, noted that those who wanted to import wildlife should obtain CITES permits from Federal Ministry of Environment to avoid any embarrassment.
He said that reptiles were some of endangered species which could not be imported or exported to any country without CITES certificates.
“The essence of issuing CITES certificates is to make sure that every nation preserves its own species of wildlife. So, anybody who wants to import, trade or move wild animals as pets from one country to another must register the animals. The world wants to keep track of the movement of such endangered species,’’ he said.
Isegbe said that the extant laws never forbade people from keeping wild animals as pets, adding, however, that those who wanted to have such pets must follow the due process.
“Nobody says you must not have wild animals in your home as pets. If you already have them at home and keep them as pets, you must register them; you need to have a permit to keep them. If you have any of these species that have CITES certificates in Nigeria and you want to move to them to another country, you have to write and inform the country you are going to and seek its permission to move them. We want to ensure that as a nation, we have national rules and regulations protecting these animals,’’ he said.
Isagbe said that all the endangered species could also be moved as articles of trade to earn money.
The coordinating director stressed that the animals which were recently intercepted in Cross River had no CITES certificates, no import permits and no export permits, adding that the animals were, therefore, illegal consignments.
He said that the seized animals were still in the custody of the Federal Ministry of Environment, adding that investigations on their importation were still ongoing.
The Nigeria Customs Service on July 26 intercepted three consignments containing 140 species of snakes and 660 other animals in Calabar, Cross River.
The containers were brought in aboard a Cameroonian vessel, ‘MV Flesh,’ through the Calabar waterway.
The containers reportedly contained snakes and other animals such as geckos, millipedes, hairy frogs and spiders.