The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 renewed calls for the preservation and protection of vultures facing extinction because of their importance to the ecosystem to curb infections disease outbreak.
Mr Oladapo Soneye, the NCF’s spokesman, in a statement lamented disturbing decline in vulture population in Nigeria and Africa which had global health and economic implications.
Soneye decried illegal trade in vulture and vulture parts in various parts of the country as well as deliberate killing of the birds due to ignorance.
He said the decline in the vulture population in Nigeria and Africa was assuming a dangerous decline detrimental to global health and economy.
“The conservation of vulture species in Nigeria and Africa is a priority for all because of their importance in the ecosystem and NCF will not rest on its oars until every bird specie, especially vultures, are protected from harm and illegal trade,’’ he said.
He warned that global population of vultures was declining with some species recording about 95 per cent decline.
“This decline has been blamed on various factors including direct persecution, poisoning, death from diclofenac biomagnification, use of vulture parts for traditional medicines, etc.
“In Africa, where we have about 11 species of vultures, they have also suffered the same fate of decline. It has been shown that six out of the 11 species of vulture in Africa are at the brink of extinction.
“According to BirdLife, this decline has tremendous impact on human health and the economy,’’ he said.
He said vulture populations in Nigeria were declining both in protected and unprotected areas.
Soneye added that, a recent study showed that vultures in Yankari Game Reserve had all declined with only two families left out of the five vulture species recorded in the reserve in the early 80s.
Soneye said the Hooded Vulture was currently on the list of Critically Endangered species because its family had lost more than 95 per cent of its population, adding that, the Egyptian Vulture was also endangered.
He listed causes of decline of vultures in Nigeria to include persecution because of poor perception of vultures as bad omen, use for traditional medicine and poisoning in abattoirs for onward sale in wildlife markets.
He said that NCF took deliberate steps to reverse the trend in Nigeria while joining the BirdLife Partnership across the globe to curb the global decline through various advocacy programmes.
He listed various stakeholders’ engagements held in 2015, 2017 and 2018 to protect and conserve vultures in Nigeria targeting the wildlife trade value-chain across Ogun, Osun, and Ondo states.
Soneye lamented that several stakeholders and actors were not aware of the decline of the African Vulture crisis, hence the need for aggressive massive awareness campaigns.
“More so, stakeholders’ awareness rate of the health and economic role and importance of vulture is significantly low put at five to seven per cent as majority find vulture species as fearful, dangerous, and not good to be associated with let alone having to recognise the role the species play within society,’’ he said.
He said that market assessment revealed that vulture parts had local and international trade routes with major hubs in Ibadan and Kano in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger Republic, and Burkina Faso.
He explained that prices of vulture varied from N5,000 to N40,000 depending on if it was alive or dead and the location of the market.
“The uses of vulture parts include: ritual rites for cure of evil attack; hunted for domestic food and good protein supplement; Vulture egg is also used for money making rituals and ritual rite for the cure for madness.
“Apart from gathering data on socio-economic, NCF is reviewing national legislation on pesticides and dangerous drugs affecting vulture in Nigeria.
“This is to identify areas for provision for changes that will help protect them,’’ he said.
By Grace Alegba