The Nigeria National Park Service says trespassers at any of its parks nationwide will henceforth be apprehended and handed over to the appropriate authorities to face the consequences.
Alhaji Ibrahim Goni, the Conservator-General of the Service, said this in Abuja.
He said that the service was working with relevant agencies to address the challenges facing the parks and ensure that trespassers were dealt with.
“We have challenges like conflicts and trespassers who engage in illegal hunting of wildlife. We have problems with Fulani herdsmen who shepherd their cattle to graze in the parks and loggers who go into the parks to cut trees for timber. We have also witnessed instances of fishermen who go into the parks to fish and poison the river, as well as farmers who, in most cases, farm beyond the boundaries of their farms and encroach into the parks. However, the classification of the national park as a paramilitary organisation has given us the impetus to carry firearms to help us guard the parks,’’ he said.
Goni said that with the status of becoming a paramilitary service, the park service was awaiting the approval of the Inspector-General of Police for plans to upgrade its current firepower.
“We are currently discussing with the Inspector-General of Police so he can consider approving the use of AK47 rifles for our men, as our current firepower is below the capacity of the AK47,’’ he said.
The conservator-general said that the service was improving on the training of its personnel, which was currently being handled by the military.
“The military is currently handling the training of our personnel so that at least we will have that jungle tactics to be able to adequately confront the people creating conflicts for us.When the necessary training is acquired, we will be able to effectively patrol the national parks and secure them from these trespassers,’’ he said.
Goni said that the national park service was the gene bank of Nigeria as its mandate was to protect the country’s ecosystem in its original and unadulterated form.