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Friday, December 8, 2023

Concern over unhindered exploitation of fauna and flora in Pandam National Park

Pandam Wildlife Park is located North of Benue River and South of Plateau State along Lafia-Shendam Road in Qua’an pan Local Government Area of Plateau State. It lies between latitudes 80351 N and 80551 N, and longitudes 80001 E and 80451 E.

Pandam National Park
Illegal logging in Pandam National Park

The park covers an area of 224 square kilometers. Pandam Park is located at a height of 175 – 310 meters above sea level and it is bounded by a river to the North and by Pandam to the west and bounded by Namu, Kayarda and Aningo settlements to the south and east. Pandam Game Reserve and Wildlife Park in Plateau State is home to some rare animals and exotic birds. A natural animal habitat that has drawn tourists and researchers both locally and from foreign countries, but now suffers from years of neglect.

The over three hours’ journey from Jos, the Plateau State capital, to Pandam Game Reserve at the Southern Senatorial District of the state, held more excitement than seeing the sorry state of one of Plateau’s abandoned natural tourist destinations. Obviously suffering from years of neglect, a part of the Game Reserve has been converted into a park called the Pandam Wildlife Park and is considered to protect 224sq km of unspoiled savanna wetlands and forest.

In December 2020, the Federal Government established 10 new National Parks out of some games and forest reserves. Pandam was one of the reserves selected. Others are: Allawa Game Reserve, Allawa National Park, 310km square, Niger State; Apoi Forest Reserve, Apoi National Park, 64.77km square, Bayelsa State; Edumenum Forest Reserve, Edumenum National Park, 86.76km square, Bayelsa State; Falgore Game Reserve, Falgore National Park, 920km square, Kano State; Hadeja Wetland Game Reserve, Hadeja Wetland National Park, 320km square, Jigawa State; Kampe Forest, Kampe National Park, 652.86km square, Kwara State; Kogo Forest Reserve, Kogo National Park, 212.66km square, Katsina State; Marhai Forest Reserve, Marhai National Park, 54.00km square, Nasarawa State; and Oba Hill Forest Reserve, Oba Hills National Park, 52.5km square, Osun State.

The processes for the complete handover of these reserves to government by the states have reached final stage.

It seems that the window period between handing over the Reserve to the National Park Service and the taking over of the Reserve has created an erroneous impression that the Park belongs to no one. If it had remained as an impression, it would have been less devastating than groups taking advantage to graze, habit, log and poach in the Park. No natural resource can survive such myriad exploitation. The unhindered organised exploitation of fauna and flora in Pandam has degraded and deeply affected the ecosystem that if action is not taken immediately to save it, what would be left would be the name alone.

At the moment, grazing is taking place in the park according to reports from informants, some criminal elements have turned it to a kidnappers’ hideout – about two years ago, PLASU ASUU Chairman and a former Chairman of Shendam LGA were kidnapped and kept there. Other inimical activities taking place are poaching and fishing. Some of the poachers have even taken residence in the Park, creating a settlement in the park. As if those are not enough, illegal logging in the park has become rampant.

By Prof. Ibrahim Dinju Choji, Chairman, Nigerian Environmental Society (NES), Plateau State chapter

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