The United Nations De
velopment Programme (UNDP) last year embarked on series of programmes to save the Niger Delta biodiversity resources from extinction.
The programme by the UNDP, no doubt is in line with the just concluded 2016 World Environment Day celebration.
It will be recalled that, the theme, for this year’s World Environment Day celebration was, “Fight Against Illegal Wildlife Trade” and the slogan is “Go Wild”.
The World Environment Day celebration was initiated by the United Nation (UN) to give a human face to environmental issues as well as empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development.
It will be noted that the theme for this year’s celebration follows the alarming rate of illegal wildlife trade across the world.
A release from the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) a copy obtained by The Tide, described wildlife trade as the commerce of products that are derived from non domesticated animals, eg plants usually extracted from their natural environment or raised under controlled conditions.
“It can involve the trade of living or dead individuals, tissues such as skins, bones or meat or other products”.
It must be noted that legal wildlife trade is regulated by the United Nations convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild fora and fara (CITES) with 170 member countries including Nigeria called parties.
Although illegal wildlife trade may not be common in the Niger Delta, but other environmental conditions have impacted negatively on the continuous existence of wildlife in Rivers State and other parts of the Niger Delta.
Available information obtained from civil society organizations indicates that environmental factors such as, oil pollution deforestation, bush burning and others have contributed to wildlife migration from the Niger Delta.
Some of the wildlife which are on the verge of extinction in the region are, the Niger Delta colobus, proco lobusepreni type of Red Monkey found in Nembe, Bayelsa State, the Hippopotamus, common in Bonny river but rarely seen these days, the Boa constrictor in Andoni and the Elephants also in Andoni.
Also on the verge of extinction are the Tortoise in Alode forest, Eleme, the Gorillas in Ogoni and even the periwinkles and the oyelsters.
The Commissioner for Environment, River State, Professor (Mrs) Roseline Konya, said that the state government will take some steps to preserve some of these wildlife from extinction. The commissioner, who delivered her address, during the celebration, said that government will also sensitise, various stakeholders, particularly, the public and private sector, the students, the teachers, the academia, the investors, civil society organisations (CSOs) non-governmental organisations the market women and men to make their input in the fight against illegal wildlife trade as stakeholders in one way or the other.
Professor Konya also said that, the government will evolve containment measures for the Elephants in the Andoni forest.
According to her, “in the Niger Delta and indeed Rivers State in areas like Oyoroketo, Illotombi Aywut, Obolo in Andoni local government area, elephants we are told move around in communities, sometimes ravaging crops of farmers.
“The ministry will collaborate with NGOs to contain these animals, attempting to preserve them” she said. The commissioner said that Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike has approved the relocation of the Port Harcourt Zoo from Trans/Amadi to Greater Port Harcourt, while the present location will be turned to amusement park.
The National Second Vice President of the Waste Management Society of Nigeria (WAMASON) Envoy Sodienye A. Abere, described the celebration as unique in view of its relationship with wildlife.
Envoy Sodienye said that all international and local laws designed to curb illegal wildlife trade be implemented especially in the Niger Delta to save wildlife in the region from extinction.
“This year’s motto, “Go Wild for Life” is apt. Yes we need to be wild (which is the original nature) to save life”, he said.
For the chairman, Environmental Management Association of Nigeria Rivers State chapter, Chief Sao Selako, the world has a duty to protect our environment wildlife for sustainability.
Other environmentalist sits who also commented on the issue described wildlife as a part of existence that must be protected, stressing that for this to be achieved, the leadership must muster enough political will to implement laws relating to wildlife conservation.
The move by the Rivers State Government to protect wildlife in the state is a commendable one and efforts must be made to ensure its success.
Dead Fishes:Environment Groups Demand Palliatives For Bonny Residents
Two environment groups in Nigeria, the Bonny Environment Consultant Committee (BECC) and the Association of Environmental Lawyers of Nigeria, have decried the devastating impact of the massive dead fishes floating along the Bonny coastline in Rivers State which they say have destroyed economic lives of the inhabitants of the area, with a call for the provision of palliatives to them.
The groups which made their position known in separate interviews with The Tide in Port Harcourt said it was not enough to unravel the causes of the dead fishes on the coastline but that there was the need to provide palliatives to the people whose livelihoods have been adversely affected by the ugly incident.
The Chairman of Bonny Environment Consultant Committee, Prof. Sodeinye Abere, who described the incident as disturbing, said on confirming the veracity of the massive dead fishes on the Bonny coastline, his committee directed the people to stop harvesting, buying and eating fishes for now, thereby temporarily putting on hold their means of livelihoods.
According to him, “the stench of the dead fishes alone is very, very disturbing. Ordinarily, the coastline dwellers enjoy the cosy breeze that comes in and refreshes their bodies. It is no more the case. More than that, with the Coronavirus issue restricting people’s movement, again, the ordinary Bonny man can go behind of his house at the creek and fetch fish to subsist with, but he cannot do that any more. The economic load now would be so much on the ordinary natives.”
To cushion the effects of this seeming disruption of the people’s socio-economic wellbeing, Prof. Abere said there was the need to provide palliatives to them. “Palliative measures are also solicited because our people waiting to die of Coronavirus should be alive first”, he said.
He pointed out that there was also the need not to only investigate the circumstances surrounding the dead fishes but also the physiochemical properties of the water where the fishes live, stressing that if not properly handled, the situation can become a pandemic in Nigeria.
On his part, the President of the Association of Environmental Lawyers of Nigeria, Dr Samuel Chisa Dike said the body was disturbed by the development and urged the Federal Government to treat the issue the same way it is treating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dike, an Associate Professor of Energy and Environment Law at the Rivers State University, stressed the need for critical stakeholders to work together to address the issue.
“ You never can tell who has consumed this specie of fishes since one month now. And we want to be sure that government is sensitised about it, because there is the tendency to tell the people about the danger of consuming the fishes but another thing is what happens to their economic lives?”, he queried.
By: Donatus Ebi
COVID-19: Man O’ War Distributes Hand Sanitisers To Eneka Residents
The Rivers State Command of the “Man O’ War” Nigeria has distributed thousands of hand sanitisers to residents of Eneka and other communities in the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
The State Commandant of the paramilitary organisation, Barrister Dignity N. Nwieke, told newsmen during a sensitisation programme on the coronavirus pandemic in Eneka that, the move was to complement the effort of the State Government at checking the spread of the disease to the state.
Barrister Nwieke said the sensitisation programme which started in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area will be taken round the 23 local government areas.
According to him, as a responsible organisation the Man O’ War will not wait for the Rivers State Government to shoulder the burden of checking the spread of the disease alone, stressing that the organisation must play its part in ensuring that Rivers State is coronavirus free.
The State Commandant also called on other organisations and agencies to assist the state governor towards combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Governor Wike is trying. He needs the support of everybody to succeed,” he said.
Nwieke also called on the people of Eneka and other communities to maintain the highest level of personal hygiene, by washing their hands regularly with soap and running water, avoiding handshakes and keeping their environment clean.
He also called for support to the paramilitary organisation.
Some beneficiaries of the hand sanitisers commended the organisation for the gesture.
RSG Probes Causes Of Dead Fishes As Andoni Communities Raise Alarm Over Likelihood Of Epidemic
The Rivers State Government says it will investigate the incident of thousands of dead fishes along the Bonny and Andoni coastal waterways.
The State Commissioner for Environment, Dr Igbikis Tamuno, said this in a press release while reacting to reports of floating dead fishes along the Bonny and Andoni waterways.
The release signed by the Commissioner, Dr Igbikis Tamuno said the government will investigate the cause of the dead fishes.
The Commissioner also urged indigenes of coastal communities both in Bonny and Andoni not to eat the dead fishes.
Meanwhile, residents of some coastal communities in Andoni Local Government Area have alleged the presence of thousands of dead fishes along the Andoni River.
According to the residents, thousands of dead fishes are being washed ashore by Atlantic waves.
Speaking in an interview with The Tide, a resident of Muma community, Engr Joshua Ngo said the area may experience an epidemic if the decaying fishes are not properly buried.
Engr Ngo, also said, multinational companies operating in the area are denying being responsible for the incident.
According to him, the incident has deprived fishermen of their sources of livelihood as the entire coast stretching from Muma to Finima in Bonny Local Government Area has been polluted.
The community leader also called for the entire coastal environment of Andoni stretching from Oyorokoto to Ibot-Okpon Obolo to be fumigated in order to save the communities from epidemic.
Ngo also called for the communities to be compensated with relief materials.
Also speaking, the Chairman, Community Development Committee (CDC), Ngo mainland, Mr Clement Clement Sunday, called on the government to act urgently as hunger may force the people to feed on the dead fishes.
Sunday also told The Tide that all oil companies operating in the Andoni territorial waters have denied responsibility for the dead fishes.
“We have contacted companies operating in the area and they said they don’t know what caused the death of the fishes.
According to him, more than 20 communities in the coastal environment are on the verge of starvation as the decaying fishes have polluted the entire source of water source.
“I want to call on the government to come to the aide of the communities as the decaying fishes are all over the water surface.
“Hunger is looming,” he said.
Meanwhile, an Environmentalist, Mr Iniruo Wills, has urged the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), to probe the cause of death of fishes along the Niger Delta coastline.
Wills, in an interview with newsmen in Yenagoa, noted that dead fishes littered the coastline across Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers States.
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