Dr Ibrahim Goni, the Conservator General, National Park Service says Nigerians must have behavioural change towards wildlife to curb some avoidable diseases in our country.
Goni gave the charge on Tuesday to further warn Nigerians about the dangers posed by hunting, eating and trading in, wildlife, and also warned about using wild animals as pets.
“We got reports that people still eat and sell various species of dead monkeys, cats, and birds such as bats, as well as pangolins suspected to be at the center of COVID-19.
“Pangolin, the world’s most trafficked mammal is believed to have possibly been a vector in the leap of the novel coronavirus from animal to human at a market in China’s Wuhan city last year.
“They are commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, although scientists say they have no therapeutic value,’’ he said.
The C-G said that this pandemic should make hunters of wildlife to consider the health not just of humans, but of animals and the environment, to avert future crises.
“Due to hunting, eating and trading in wildlife, the world has seen the emergence of all sorts of animal- borne infectious diseases such as SARS, Nipah, Ebola, Lassa Fever, and now, COVID-19.
“At our parks we have experts who handle these animals in hygienic ways to avoid direct human contact that can become breeding grounds for existing and emerging infectious diseases’’.
He said that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc globally and Nigeria is not left out and wondered why some people still engage in a trade that supposedly brought the such devastation upon mankind.
“One of the frightening realities of this trade is the threat that it poses to the health of human beings, through spread of diseases from animals to human beings.
“Wildlife belong to the wild and therefore should be left in the wild,’’ Goni advised.
He, therefore, called for a paradigm shift in behavior of the public towards Nigeria’s Environmental Laws and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES.
He added that 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases are linked to wildlife and that that underscored the mutually-effective relationship between human beings and nature.
“It is important we understand the links between habitat and environmental damage and the coronavirus.
“The destruction of ecosystems makes disease outbreaks, including pandemics, more likely and now the destruction of nature is the underlying crisis behind the coronavirus crisis.
“Our Wildlife is increasingly going into extinction and its trade puts ecosystems at risk’’.
He said the Service will continue to create awareness on the impact of hunting and trading on biodiversity and the risks that it poses to human health.
“We urge those involved in wildlife trade to stop the killing and eating of wildlife, for their own good.
“Wild animals belong in the wild and are not pets and should be handled by professionals,’’ he warned.
Goni added that the lockdown has surely brought to bear how animals feel in captivity, whether in zoos or as pets in cages in houses and and further emphasises the importance of freedom to all living things, including human beings.