On this #WorldElephantDay 2018, we have decided to release a report of our Visit to Idanre, Ondo State, Nigeria following a public outcry on the killing of an #Elephant by a hunter. 3 members of #TeamWildlifeAfrica went on that expedition. Enjoy the read and leave a comment.
The Elephant, the largest terrestrial mammal is a fascinating creature, they’re intelligent, family-oriented, and capable of feeling a wide range of deep emotions, from intense grief to joy bordering on elation, as well as empathy and stunning self-awareness. Taking into consideration all of that and much more, what’s not to love about Elephants? Still, countless of Elephants are brutally killed every year for their ivory by greedy poachers who then leave their carcasses to rot in the sun and by hunters for food and skin.
World Elephant day is a perfect time to find out more about these amazing animal and what we can do to preserve and protect them so they do not go into extinction like the Mammoth. How can you help? You can help by sharing awareness with people about how unique these animals are, why we should not hunt or poach them and the reason for us to preserve and protect them. You can volunteer with a local conservation NGO to save and conserve Elephants and you can also support conservation work by sponsoring or donation. When the Buying of ivory and Elephant meat stops, the killing can too.
We made the visit to Idanre from Akure on the 17th March 2018 around 10 a.m. The distance was less than 50 km.sq to get to our target area (Ajayinka). We actually obtained more audience and pieces of information from the bike men who took us to and also when coming back. The bike man that took us to the area where the Elephant was killed told us that hunting is the main source of survival and livelihood of the family of the hunter who killed the elephant. He mentioned that the father of the man that did the killing caught a live chimpanzee which he lived with till his death about 2 years ago. He went further to say that when this his father died, he killed the elephant to make a feast for about 14days for his burial. Also, the younger brother of this man is known for killing Buffalos, within Idanre.
We interviewed a few people because we are told many people had gone to town because it was a weekend. Of these few people, 4 persons testified to the fact that the elephant was actually killed and a man testified he was even oppurtuned to eat of the Elephant’s Meat. We could not meet with the actual hunter that killed the Elephant as report have it that he has gone into hiding, possibly because relevant government agencies have begun investigations into the matter and they seem aware that the killing was wrong.
This was the 3rd Elephant reported being killed in that community. The first 2 was a consequence of Human-Wildlife conflict. They claim Elephants attack people on their farmlands and the family mentioned above were invited to help them drive the elephants away and 2 were killed in the process. Apart from the Elephants, there was also testimonies of other animals around which include chimpanzees, bufallo, warthog being killed on a regular basis.
We also discovered a high exploitation of timber resources within the region and also the conversion of most forest areas to farmlands especially for Cocoa and banana plantation. The region actually was meant to be rainforest but currently it is more like a derived savanna.
From this expedition, we can say that the problem with these wildlife killings is the lack of conservation education among the community members and lack of alternative livelihoods. The people are dependent on natural resources which includes hunting, excessive timber exploitation, and voracious agricultural practices.
If you like to help us set up a Conservation Education specifically targeted at this community to change them from ‘Hunter’ to ‘Conservationist’, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are looking for partners to make a success of a few ideas we have in this regard. Together we can do so much more. Thank you.
This Article and Report was written by Aribasoye Joshua and he was supported in the expedition by Okerinu Paul and Oke Olajide Oluwaseun.
Telephone: +234 817 945 3243
“Are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant, except in a picture book?” – Sir David Attenborough.
Of the 5 big games, it is not so easy to come by an Elephant in Nigeria today – both in the wild and in captive areas; except you find yourself in the Yankari National Park, believed to have the largest and most important Elephant herd of merely 100-150 or Omu – Shasha Forest, Ogun State. The other place you can readily come by an Elephant is at the Jos Wildlife Park where an 8-foot, one-tusked, African Savannah Elephant (Loxodonta africana) has been stranded in an isolated block for 38-years.
A report by the United Nations in 2015, asserts that up to 100 Elephants – both Savannah and Forest species are being slaughtered daily in Africa by poachers, primarily for their tusk which the Chinese market constantly demands. As organizations and conservationists intensify efforts to halt illegal ivory trade and wildlife trafficking, recent research posits that the whole of Africa has an estimate of 352,271 Savanna Elephants left, a far cry from between 3-5 million censored by World Wildlife Foundation in the 20th century.
25 years after a ban was placed on ivory trade, emerging markets still makes it more difficult to address this menace. In 2015, the Chinese government in a bid to reduce the demand for African tusks and protect wild elephants made conscious efforts to curb ivory imports; however, reoccurring reports and pictures stress that a lot more Elephants are being poached in southern and northern Nigeria and their tusks exported to Asian countries. The most recent that made the news in Bauchi, Ogun, Osun and Idanre area of Ondo state, Nigeria.
Across the globe, as World Elephant Day is celebrated today, one wonders what will become of the few Elephants left in Nigeria; hence, the call for pragmatic, pro-wildlife actions to turn the tide and save the remaining Elephants in Nigeria. The efforts of Nigeria-based organizations like Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative through her various Wildlife Education programs and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation through her Forest Elephant Alive Campaign, among others, should not only be commended, they should be better funded to help them explore effective, science-based conservation strategies.
If we want future generations to live in a world where elephants thrive, the Wildlife Conservation Society has outlined and advocated the need to:
- Increase aerial surveillance in strongholds.
- Train and deploy more rangers in the protected areas.
- Supply new rangers with equipment.
- Assist the authorities in tracking and shutting down trafficking networks.
- Grow our community development programs to support local communities to co-exist with wildlife.
What will you do to help protect elephants and to support existing Elephant conservation initiatives?
Photo Credit: An Elephant at Jos Wildlife Park, by Kim Dashong
‘Seyifunmi Adebote, an environmentalist writes from Abuja, Nigeria
Environmentalist, Editor/Writer, Media Personnel.
I am making an impact here, do same over there. Start now!
#WorldLionDay aims to raise awareness of the majestic hunter, the ultimate cat, the king of the jungle and a symbol of Africa’s Heritage. It’s all about #Lions today. This short Write-up was put together by a member of #TeamWildlifeAfrica, Joshua Aribasoye. Enjoy reading.
The lion is a species in the cat family, muscular, deep-chested with a short-rounded head, a reduced neck, and round ears. The Lion has forever been a symbol of strength, power, and ferocity, most social of all the big cats and lives together in groups or pride of about 15 lions.
Lions are facing an indirect threat from climate change called co-infection, periodically face outbreaks of the disease distemper and usually leading to mortality and many human threats such as population growth and agricultural expansion, resulting in loss of natural habitats.
Other threats include international wildlife trade in their parts, trophy hunting, poisoning and poaching by livestock ranchers. The steepest challenge that Lions currently face is that farmer and ranchers have no economic reason for not poisoning or killing them.
Conservation groups are working to develop strategies to reduce Lion – Farmer conflicts, such as lion-proof bomas, which are natural thorny enclosures where ranchers keep their livestock at night, reducing or eliminating the need to kill lions because of livestock depredation.
You may have heard of Richard Turere: the 13-year-old Kenyan boy who invented an ingenious system for safely keeping lions from attacking livestock in 2013. Knowing that lions were scared of people carrying torches (flashlights) at night. Source: http://bit.ly/2OREmNb
He rigged a series of automated flashing LED light bulbs around his livestock pen. The blinking lights trick lions and other predators into thinking a herdsman is present, so they don’t attack livestock. some Conservation projects use it. Listen to him – https://n.pr/2AVrB1d
How can you help? You can help by joining us to raise awareness for the majestic big cat to end poaching and hunting; by volunteering to save and conserve lions; by sponsoring or donating to conservation work through us or by any other avenue you can help. Thank you.
Joshua Aribasoye, writes from Nigeria. A student of the Federal University of Technology Akure, studying Animal production and health. He is also a Wildlife conservationist and an Environmentalist, with major interest in conservation aspects are based on Elephant and Big Cats conservation.
Phone number: +2348165138859,
Twitter handle: @joshwildlife,
Facebook handle: joshua.aribasoye1
A number of patriots die unrewarded in Nigeria, as well as, in other countries. In some cases, no names or record are made public by the government to honour such folks. A number of Park Rangers fall right into this category.
According to the Conservator-General of the National Parks Service, Ibrahim Goni, a total of 29 officers have died in active service across Nigeria’s 7 National parks. With more unpleasant statistics unfolding, could it be possible that we are fast losing our rich biodiversity to poachers?
In 2017, the International Ranger Federation reported that 105 Rangers were killed worldwide. As at July 2018, another 128 rangers have been recorded to have lost their lives in active duties, with 63 of them in Africa, it does not seem we are winning.
One of the world’s foremost organizations, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) have identified some species such as elephants, rhinos, pangolins, and rosewood among those that heighten the risks rangers face across the world. As more gory pictures of different wildlife species (like elephants) litter our timelines, and thousands of wildlife species (like pangolin) worth millions of dollars are seized; No doubt, illegal killing of and illicit trafficking in wildlife is on the rise in Nigeria, even more than we can track.
While we all can’t carry guns and march onward to the borders of the national parks or other protected areas, there is a lot we can do to merge forces with relevant agencies like the National Park Service and our park rangers in ensuring poachers lose their dirty jobs.
The basic and simplest is to increase data-based, people-tailored education about Wildlife Conservation. There is a need for intentional conservation and for action-targetted conversations about the roles of individuals – especially young ones, and communities – with emphasis on rural communities. The precarious task of wildlife conservation must not be left solely on the shoulders of rangers – Park Rangers, else we all will wake to discover our once-rich wild places are completely empty.
The World Ranger Day is a day that annually commemorates Rangers killed or injured in the line of duty and celebrates the critical work Rangers do to protect the world’s natural and cultural treasures/biodiversity. July 31st, 2018 marks the 11th global anniversary of World Ranger Day, since the first was held in 2007 by the International Rangers Federation.
‘Seyifunmi Adebote is an environmentalist, he writes from Abuja, Nigeria and can be reached via email@example.com
Environmentalist, Editor/Writer, Media Personnel.
I am making an impact here, do same over there. Start now!
Join Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative on Saturday, July 28th, 2018, to celebrate #WorldNatureConservationDay as Adebote Oluwaseyifunmi hosts the 2nd Edition of our #ThankYouNature at Sarius Palmetus, Maitama, Abuja, 7:30am
It’s a sponsored event, kindly register here below to get an invite:
Contact : 08179453243
World Environment Day is the United Nation’s most important day for encouraging every individual about the importance of healthy environment and promoting worldwide awareness action for protecting the environment. The day is celebrated annually on 5th of June and it’s about connecting and inspiring humans to the environment, appreciating and celebrating our healthy environment free from every form of pollution ranging from industrial waste, agricultural run-off and forms of pollution and now emerging plastic pollution.
The day is celebrated in different ways from watershed clean-up, tree planting and calling on staff and partners to get involved, educating the young ones and taking of pictures with reusable items and encouraging others, advocating for the day on internet, adding of pictures to the album of world environment day, promoting and advocating for the world environment day on social media. The theme for this year World Environment Day is “Beat Plastic Pollution”.
Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental threat the planet is facing right now, most of the plastic we use is single-use- or disposable. Over 8million tonnes of the plastics escapes the recycling station end up in the ocean and this is turning our watershed into a plastic waste dumpsite which is damaging the marine life and threatening human health when it enters our food chain. Some of the effects are but not limited to widespread of diseases, deaths threat to our aquatic life’s by choking them when mistakenly taken as food and some affects the reproductive system of some aquatic life’s and this retard there reproductive ability.
This theme invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the heavy burden of plastics pollution on our natural places.
Global Plastics Pollution by the Numbers:
500 billion plastic bags used each year
13 million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean each year
90% of bottled water and tap water found to contain plastic particles
50% of consumer plastics are single use
10% of all human-generated waste is plastic
Over 5million tonnes of plastic escape the recycling station and end up in the water. World Environment Day encourage changes in major key areas:
- Reducing single-use plastic – over 50% of the consumer plastics are designed to be used only once, providing a momentary convenience before being discarded. Eliminating single-use plastics is a critical first step to beat plastic pollution.
- Improving waste management – nearly one-third of the plastics we use escapes our collection system. Once in the environment, plastic get smaller and smaller, and by this gets into our food chain through the fish and some other marine life we eat so proper waste management must be put in place.
- Phasing out microplastic – research by United Nation shows that over 90% of bottled water and tap water contains microplastic particles which trace amount turning up in our blood, stomach, and lungs with increasing regularity.
- Promoting research into alternatives – as alternative use to plastics are limited and difficult to scale, a further research is needed to make sustainable plastics alternatives both economically viable and widely available.
Call to Action:
- The government must lead, make and implement strong policies that push for a more circular model of design and production of plastics. Calling on every government to curb the production and use of unnecessary single-use plastics to the plastics producing organization and make good reusable items.
- The private sector must innovate, adopting business models that reduce the downstream impact of their product and to make immediate investments in sustainable design for tomorrow which are, more reliable than plastic products
- Citizens who are the plastic users to exercise their buying power by refusing single-use plastics and informed others, demanding sustainable products and embracing sensible consumption habits in their own lives.
This Article was written by our Lagos Lagoon Waterkeeper Field Officer. He is a Zoologist and has a great love for Nature.
Facebook: Oduola Olamilekan Benayoun
A wake up call to our distinguished lawmakers in the various tier of governance especially those saddled with the onerous responsibilities to chart our nation’s environmental future; a plea to revisit the national parks service and the ministry of environment with a view to giving it much leverage to fulfil its mandates and put the nation on the list of countries with the best protected areas in the world.
If consciousness itself is awareness, public awareness can thus act as an effective counterforce to elite industrialist interests who tends to dominate public policy in democratic and market-based societies and serve as a vehicle for articulate community education. It is this intersection between community consciousness and environmental management the thrust that provides significant opportunities and challenges for sustainable development at the local level using the Nigeria national parks as models. Therefore, all well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians at all levels must grapple with the question “how does community consciousness, which is “their participation” help our national parks and their environmental management goals ?” And how do environmental management principles and policies especially current budgetary allocations facilitate effective protected area (National parks) management through greater community participation?
Answering these questions portends a secure and prosperous future for our beloved country. Nigeria will earn greater international carbon credits running into millions of dollars annually from global pool and basically from our own national parks than from any other landscape because the parks are the only localities where undisturbed forests can be found and those are the same places where significant carbon is being sequestered. All the nation needs at the moment is to set up a national mechanism for evaluating and working towards accessing and harnessing our carbon credits. We must first determine how much carbon is being sequestered by our forest and protected areas before making a claim to same.
There is no justification why the nation should not revisit the effective and sustainable management of our grossly underfunded national parks. For the sake of information, a national park such as Cross River national park covers a 4000km square of land and as such larger than several local government areas and impacts upon a larger population of people and communities who all look upon it as the most significant federal government intervention in their favor. Looking at the available words, the park can not boast of even a third of the budgetary allocation that a local government receives, yet national parks build roads, bridges, culverts, hospitals, schools, town halls, provides employment, host and train students of various institutions among numerous other services while remaining the best solution to the mitigation of impending impacts of climate change in West Africa. Records show that some national parks have not received adequate capital allocations for a number of years leading to incapacitation towards the fulfillment of their set objectives of conservation yet we run budget to trillions doing and achieving nothing.
- A black cloud in Port Harcourt
- Desertification in the North
- Charcoal business in the middle belt
- Plastics in water of Lagos
- Erosion in Eastern Nigeria.
We have no other place to call Earth, why not protect this one with adequate policies that will benefit our generation and the future generation regardless.
– Isah Yakubu Ogwu, a passionate Environmentalist, a Forester and Bird/wildlife hazard control professional, writes from Abuja, Nigeria.
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THREAT TO WILDLIFE AND PROBABLE SOLUTION
Wildlife faces numerous threats, especially from humans. They are around us and they deserve the right to live free, safe and wild. Though we could help, rescue and rehabilitate them, we must, however, release them back to their natural habitats and environment.
The major threat Wildlife face is the destruction of their habitat. For example, many of them live in areas used for farming or where industrial waste is being deposited by humans.
Other threats include;
• Some animals live in a very restricted or isolated area which has a disastrous effect on the animals when a single disaster hit.
• The growing population of human makes living and breeding for many species difficult.
• Environmental factors also play its part in the survival of wildlife such as polluted water due to toxic waste deposition, noise from industrial engines, air pollutant and so on.
• Trades of animals by human also affects their survival because some of this animals are traded for feeding, some that are sold as pets are often neglected and poorly fed, and some die during the cause of transportation.
• Due to human fear of some species of animals, we tend to kill them anytime we see them such as snakes, spiders and so on.
Things we could do to help.
Saving wildlife and wilderness is the responsibility of all thinking people. Greed and personal gain must not be permitted to decimate, despoil and destroy the earth’s irreplaceable treasure for its existence is essential to the human spirit and the well being of the earth as a whole. All life has just one home-the earth- and we as the dominant species must take care of it – Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, Kenyan author, and conservationist.
• Choosing of a native plant that could provide food and shelter for our lawn and landscape.
• Donate money or time to organizations that protect wildlife and their habitats.
• Limit family size.
• Talk to policymakers on the trade of wildlife.
• Educate locals and communities on the importance of protecting species in their natural habitat with little or no interference.
– Gbenga Olaniyan is a Microbiologist, a Wildlife Enthusiast, volunteering with Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative and writes from Lagos.
Facebook: Platini oluwagbemiga Olaniyan
It all started with an Owl that fell on my laps in my University days at Olabisi Onabanjo University and came to maturity and fruition with a master’s course at Universidad Internacional de Andalucía. Hitherto, I had been stung by a bee at age 10, which made me developed a deep respect for nature and its wildlife.
As a young man at age 17, 1994/1995, I felt ‘a calling’ to humanity. A sense of a higher purpose to my life. So, I began a journey to self-discovery by enrolling in a Catholic Major Seminary. At this same time, I got an admission to one of the foremost universities in Nigeria to study medicine, but I declined the admission. Mid-way into a 7-year study of Philosophy and Theology I was convinced I needed a change. An unexamined life they say, it not worth living. I had to make a change. By February 1999; I left the seminary.
December 1999 I sought and gained admission to the Olabisi Onabanjo University and though I applied to study Pharmacy, I was offered Zoology. I simply resigned to FAITH and FATE. I just needed to enter a university at this stage in my life and was prepared to accept any course. FATE decided for me because when I had the opportunity to even switch back to the pharmacy, I decided NO because, at the time, I sincerely believed that I have a date with destiny about Animals. I felt herein lies my CALLING. I felt I had a purpose to fulfill studying animals but it was still hazy. So, I trudged on in FAITH.
It was about this time, on an early morning walk within the university premises that I found an injured Owl on my path. Against the social instinct and superstitious believes we learned as kids of the evil manifestations or meaning an Owl can have, I decided to provide this Owl with a home, food, care and nurtured it back to health. I was particularly fascinated when I saw it because as children, we only hear their sounds and pictures on TV and would not even switch the lights off in the room to go to sleep. And there lies an Owl in my presence for the very first time. I must say here that, I have never seen an Owl again till date except in Zoos. I took care of it, travel back and forth 100km journey to get White Rats to feed it and after some time I started breeding the white rats myself.
This started the journey for me in the field of Wildlife Domestication or Captive breeding and what I did not know could be part of conservation. I started breeding Rabbits, Grasscutters, Snails, Giant Rats and even had my Undergraduate thesis in the field of Ethnozoology with a special focus on the uses of animals; their parts and derivatives for traditional, cultural, religious, medicine and superstitious purposes. On graduation, in 2004, I had to release the Owl back to the Wild and sold off the white rats for practical’s because none of the zoology students behind me was willing to continue with the care.
2005, as a fresh graduate, the question was ‘What Next’? Most of my colleagues were not willing to practice as a Zoologist, so we all decided to apply for jobs to work in banks and other sectors of the economy, but I had this burning desire to practice as a Zoologist, so much so that, I basically accepted to work for free at a Botanical Garden and Zoo – Shodex Gardens in Lagos. I used that platform to launch what I call ‘Emerald Animals’.
At this point, it was not clear cut for me what exactly I wanted to do. I ventured into Wildlife Education, which involved School outreach programmes, online education via Yahoo groups, setting pet zoos for schools and inviting them and the public to a guided tour at the Shodex Gardens. I called it ‘Wildlife Saturdays’ at the time. I combined this with Farm animals rearing – Rabbit, Chicken, Turkey and Catfish Farming. I even ventured into Animal Welfare issues. I wrote to all kinds of organization I could think of including, the Jane Goodall Institute, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Humane Society and the likes but I could not accept Veganism. I could not accept at the time ‘don’t kill and eat animal’ though I agreed with some of the fundamental principles of Animal Welfare, then animal farming was the one paying the bills and I had to stick to it. Now, I accept it but to the extent of ‘don’t kill and eat wild animals’.
By 2007, I completely focused on Animal Farming. I had no support for the Wildlife Education, so I stopped (Situation has not changed locally). I sought employment in the private sector. From working as a Farm manager with different privately owned farms to managing Hotels to working as an Agricultural Extension officer with a government agricultural development agency to work as a Depot representation to station manager for a privately-owned oil company and by 2011, I had my own Farm. I was basically into the Catfish and Poultry farming – Chicken and Turkey. I also do Consultancy services.
My CALLING and FATE never left me. A combination of events – bad decisions, no access to funds and loans, failed loans where I got, led to the collapse of my company. With pressures from the family, with a Wife and 3 kids, I had to go look for Job again. I had to close down the farm in 2015, to be able to accept another Job Offer. This time around, it was a civil servant under the Federal Government of Nigeria. I applied and sought employment as a Fisheries officer to work in the ministry of Agriculture but as FATE will have it, I was employed as a Senior Scientific Officer into the Federal Ministry of Environment, Forestry Department, Wildlife and CITES Management division. I accept in FAITH and decided to refocus my energy.
I settled down and started my work. Looking back, I said to myself, I am right back where I began 10 years ago in 2005. I started my Career life in a Conservation Organisation and ten years down the line, I am in another Conservation Organisation. It simply felt right and perfect for me. I resolved within myself that I had it long coming. I have the basic requirement as a Zoologist to function well and I have an Archive of Conservation actions I had worked on in the past.
I was excited about my new position and felt this was an opportunity to reintroduce the Wildlife Education I was doing before. I tried to put together a workable arrangement that can be pursued through my new position in government but it proved impossible. The question thus arises. Would I be fully able to put in practice these conservation actions not as a private individual or in a private conservation agency but in government as a Civil Servant with its attendant rules and regulations? The answer was NO. I was at a loss. I was at the point and verge of blending with the status quo and I started working on other things that are not of relevant concern. The conditions were not right and the motivation was not so strong to push me beyond the bounds.
Yet, FATE had a surprise package for me. I got so lucky and got selected to represent Nigeria in a Masters course in Wildlife Management and Conservation of Species in Trade at the Prestigious Universidad Internacional De Andalusia, Baeza, Spain. It was at this place the desire, the CALLING that had been in me since 1994 was fanned into Flame. I literally got ‘Whip-lashed’ into taking conservation action and I was not going to let any status quo or challenges of funding and acceptance by the status quo come between me and fulfilling a lifelong calling to save Wildlife Species from the edge of Extinction.
A twist of a CALLING and FATE. A journey transiting from the Seminary to Baeza. A sign of Love and care for an Owl to what I now call ‘Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative’ – A Conservation, Research, Education and Wildlife Rescue Initiative with a Vision to create “A Growing generation, knowledgeable and motivated to take positive actions on behalf of the ‘Wildlife’– Plants and animals that share our land and sea with us and the environment”.
I got some close friends to come on this journey with me and I have about 60 other Wildlife professionals and enthusiast with me now and still counting. The idea is to create a platform where Wildlife enthusiast and professionals most especially can find a voice for wildlife and act. Many of us upon graduation have no clue as to what to do with our degrees, and there are few conservation organizations in the country and they can only employ so much. I don’t think our Wildlife has so much time left, and I don’t think with my knowledge and exposure, I have the luxury to focus on a species.
I see myself as a Signpost. A link between the Conservation community out there to Young Conservationist back home who wants to help the wildlife species of plants and animals of our world, and not only to protect them but to help them thrive.
Our Flagship initiative is the Sea Turtle Exhibition launched in Lagos on 5th November 2015. Others include advocacies, training, and conservation work around Vulture, Wildlife Rescue, Elephants, Pangolins, Lagos Lagoon and Environment days (Details Below).
The Aktionsgemeinschaft Artenschutz (AGA) e.V. (AGA), Germany supports me in the development of an environmental education program, by sponsoring for me a Nigerian version of their Sea Turtle education exhibition, as well as a children’s coloring book describing the adventures of a Sea Turtle. The children’s coloring book has aroused the interest of the children in these fascinating marine reptiles. We began to organize school visits, teachers have shown great interest, and many, many children have been enthusiastic about the protection of sea turtles in various schools in the last few months and we hope to extend this environmental education in schools to Communities, engage with them and start a sea turtle monitoring, conservation, rescue, rehabilitation and release work.
The most incredible thing, however, happened to me while we were preparing to Launch the Sea Turtle Exhibition Conservation Education in Lagos, Nigeria. I was confronted with a Live Sea turtle in trouble. It was being hawked for sale on the streets, as is the usual practice these days and it was injured. I just could not let it go. I have never seen a Sea turtle before, but I was already working to protect them based on a Video footage I saw on YouTube where Sea Turtle was being hawked on the streets of Lagos during the master’s course. That Master’s turned out to be the turning point in my life.
Coming face to face with a Sea Turtle for the very first time is the most profound encounter with Nature for me. This is the first time I was seeing a Sea Turtle in my over 40 years of life. With the benefit of hindsight, I would say the Sea Turtle found me. I had to purchase her from them against my belief that we shouldn’t be paying to rescue animals, but I had no other option at that point. The fact that sea turtles are offered for slaughter in the markets of the city of Lagos and the turtles’ eggs are plundered from the nests, has necessitated the need for me to research more on the detrimental threat of humans who intentionally harvests the eggs and adults from nesting beaches and juveniles and adults from foraging grounds for trade, food, and tourist amusement. We have extended the environmental education designed for schools to Communities, to engage with them and started a sea turtle monitoring, conservation, rescue, rehabilitation and release work.
I named that Sea Turtle I rescued ‘Ariyike’, meaning ‘See me and Care me’, in my Yoruba tribe Language of South West Nigeria. I saw it and cared for it. I have extended this meaning and adopted this creed to my environmental work. I believe people cannot love what they do not know. Knowing comes from seeing and experience.
This encounter led me to explore parts of the world where I could learn more about them in a different light. I travelled to several Sea Turtle Rehabilitation, hospital and conservation centres in the United States such as the Riverhead Foundation, Sea Turtle Hospital, Georgia’s Sea Turtle Centre in Jekyll’s Island, the South Carolina Sea Turtle Aquarium and Hospital and I went on to volunteer for 3 months at a Sea Turtle Project in Barbados. Now, in a Sea turtle project in Nigeria that we have called ‘Project Ariyike’.
It appears to me that coming face to face with rare and endangered species gives me the impetus to do something about them. The 1st time I set my eyes on a Black Rhino and Elephant too was in Spain during my master’s Study. Oh, mine. Seeing these animals is different from seeing them on Television. Tigers are Bigger than they appear on TV and Cheetahs are Longer and taller than they appear too. Growing up I have the opportunity of seeing some animals in the zoo. Need to mention here that I never had an opportunity to view Wildlife in the wild in Nigeria. It is not something we were socialized with by our parents. The only places they take us to grow up are the Zoo and to the Beachfront. As a Student of Zoology, we never had the opportunity too. The one time we were to visit Yankari game reserve in Northern Nigeria, security concerns did not allow us to go.
After the Spanish experience and coming face to face with Sea Turtle Ariyike that I rescued and with an opportunity to visit the United States, I decided to embark on an amazing journey to visit various Conservation Centres as much as I can in the United States. I called it Ariyike Tours. I went from visiting Various zoos to Aquariums and Natural Wildlife Preserves. It was an amazing experience.
Places I visited includes:
- New York, (New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Bronx Zoo, Riverhead Foundation Sea Turtle Hospital, Fireshore Island National Park and gave lectures to High School Students of Westport High School);
- Philadephia (Philadephia Zoo). This was where I saw Cheetahs for the first time;
- Florida (Wakiwa springs where they do Turtle Sampling, Dr. Peter Pritchard’s Chelonia Institute, meet with some renowned Hepatologists and members of the Turtle Survival Alliance);
- Georgia (Georgia Sea Turtle Centre, Jekyll’s Island, Charlie Elliot Wildlife Centre, Rum park Wildlife Resource Centre, Piedmont Park, Atlanta Zoo, Atlanta Aquarium and gave lectures to Elementary and High School students at the Jasper County);
- South Carolina (South Carolina Sea turtle hospital and the Aquarium and attended a plastic conference here).
- Las Vagas (Here I presented my accepted Abstract on Hunters to Conservationist, based on my work so far on Sea Turtles Education and Rescue in Nigeria and plans to begin a Sea turtle Nesting beach monitoring and protection); and
- Texas (I participated in March for Science here and attended a Conservation Expo).
I am about now embarking on another phase of Ariyike Tours. ‘Ariyike’ in the ‘Yoruba’ culture of ‘Nigeria’ means – See me and Care for me. This is a Travel and Tour initiative that brings the best of Conservation Centres in Nigeria to the rest of the World and vice versa infused with the Culture – food, art, music, stories, traditional and cultural places and experiences and the history of the peoples.
Ariyike Tour was inspired by the 1st Sea Turtle Rescued (See Featured Image) by our Founder, Felix Olusola Abayomi, as he set out on to answer the call of the Wild in Wildlife Conservation and building a Wildlife Friendly Generation. Ariyike Tours aim to build #WildlifeFriendly humanity and cultural interactions while showcasing our natural resources and biodiversity both here in Nigeria and in the United States.
We are using Sea Turtles as our Flagship Conservation action initiative being a Charismatic and Keystone species but working for all species in terms of either species based or ecosystem-based conservation approaches. We have now begun a Sea Turtle Monitoring and Conservation Project in Lagos, where we monitor various sea turtles’ activities along the beaches, conduct Community education and engagement. We are hoping to move the project to the next level of using Sea Turtle protection as a means of sustainable livelihoods, creating educational, health, agricultural and other opportunities to these community members that live closest to the wildlife and for other species.
Highlighted below are some of the initiatives we are working on as well:
- Advocacy for Elephants, Rhinos, and Lions by Joining the Global March for Elephants and Rhino Movement and organized the 1st march in Nigeria in 2006 and we have organizing marches every year since then;
- Advocacy with the World Animal Day; where we organized two events in 2016 by taking kids from an orphanage to a Children’s Park and zoo and encourage people to visit Lufasi Park, a privately-owned Nature park. In 2017 we had similar events at our WildlifeAID Centre in Ijebu-ode education children about the awesome life of Elephants, Rhinos and Sea turtles through short Videos.
- Vulture Conservation with the partnership of Vulpro, a leading Vulture Conservation organization in South Africa, where we have trained 2 Nigerian for a proposed conservation project in conjunction with Lufasi Park in Lagos.
- Wildlife Rescue training, to private rescue centers in Nigeria, Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release of Sea Turtles (Ongoing) and we are trying to rescue 5 Lions and one lonely Elephant from a government-owned institution in Nigeria.
- Wildlife Sightings initiatives from our various Conservation Centres in Nigeria. We have signed an agreement with a South African based Mobile App – ‘Latest Sightings’ to list 10 Nigerian Conservation centers. That has been done and we are starting the phase where we would begin to populate with pictures and videos
- Conservation excursions to various conservation centers;
- Private land Conservation for Sanctuaries, sustainable utilization, and tourism;
- We have Research works in the offing – Pangolins survey, mammalian inventory, Freshwater Turtles Survey, Sea turtles nesting survey and monitoring;
- Capacity building, attending symposiums, Conferences, networking and learning about various conservation works and models in other parts of the world; and
- Advocacy by celebrating all environment days.
We have also used Wildlife of Africa Conservation to join WaterKeeper Alliance® as Lagos Lagoon Waterkeeper, focusing citizen action on issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change and saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the society has right to swimmable, fishable and drinkable water by also preventing waste from getting to the water body especially plastics which affect both humans and Marine Animals such as Sea Turtles, which we are also working to Protect and Conserve in Lagos. Currently working on a Clean Lagos Lagoon Initiative.
Waterkeeper Alliance is a global movement uniting more than 300 Waterkeeper Organizations and Affiliates around the world. The Waterkeeper movement patrols and protects over 2.5 million square miles of rivers, lakes, and coastlines in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa.
We basically work to help attain the UN Sustainable Development Goals 14 and 15. Thank you hope you enjoy my our Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative Conservation story so far. Please leave your comments and contact us for any questions.
- Felix Olusola Abayomi is the Founder, Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative (WACI). A Zoologist, Wildlife Management, and Conservation of Species Professional. A USAID – WABiCC Trained CITES Expert. Member, Society for Conservation Biology and the International Sea Turtle Society. Alumni, of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria and Universidad De Internacional, Andalusia, Baeza, Spain, where he holds a Master’s Degree in
Wildlife Management and Conservation of Species in Trade. He is looking forward to taking a Ph.D. Studies soon. He writes from Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria.
- In the Profile Picture, he was at the Atlanta Zoological Garden, sitting in a Big Bird Nest, where he reminisced how the journey started for him
I should be where,
The roots are thick,
Where the leaves rustle,
And the trees form a canopy.
I should be where,
The birds’ tweet,
And the fruits hang low,
Where my family has always called home,
But, I am on a leash,
For leaping to play and for putting food away,
I get a spank,
For baring my teeth and unfurling my tail
I was a monkey before, before,
Until you made me into a pet,
Now, I am a monkey in a cage,
Now, I am a monkey in your face.
I long for your visit to the jungle,
Without your buckshot, your traps or your bulldozers,
I long for when you will mind your habitat,
And allow me mind mine.
So please leave me alone,
Let me chatter with glee,
Let me swing from tree to tree,
Let me live my life the monkey way.
This Prose was written by Sonia from Lagos to bring attention to Vervet Monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus), pictured in the featured Image. They range throughout much of Southern and East Africa and listed Appendix II of CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Hope you enjoyed it. Please leave a comment below. Thank you.
To learn more about monkeys conservation, visit https://www.monkeyworlds.com/monkey-conservation/
Sonia Ugwunna writes from Lagos, Nigeria