The Conservator-General, National Park Service, Mr Ibrahim Goni, on Thursday, October 3, 2019 called for stiffer punishment for violators of natural conservation laws to halt the tide of poaching in reserved areas.
Goni made the appeal at the ongoing two-day Nigeria Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (NiPBES) Forum in Lagos to evaluate polices and chart way forward.
The event was organised by the Science and Policy for People and Nature, a global body in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Environment and the National Conservation Foundation (NCF).
Goni, who was represented by Mr Francis Amaechi-Okorafor, a senior officer of the agency, said that people encroach on the national reserved areas, cut trees and hunt games because “there are no laws to punish offenders’’.
“Many of our forest rangers or forest guards get demoralised when after staying in forest in the rain and in the sun to guard the forests and if eventually an offender is apprehended and taken to court, you find out that the person walks free after paying a fine of say N5000 or less.
“And this is somebody that has through his illicit activity defrauded the country and our collective wealth in the region of millions of Naira and endangered our ecosystem.
“So many animals and plants that will have provided relief to many environment-induced diseases are going into extinction because of some illicit activities,’’ he said.
The conservationist called for an interface among agencies and organisations to strengthen policies and laws in order to sustain life.
According to him, without plants, there will not be human life on earth because plants takes carbon dioxide and produce oxygen for human use.
Goni said that all the nation’s reserved areas were being properly manned but motivation and stiffer punishments for offenders were essential.
By Uchenna Eletuo