The National Park Service says Nigeria has lost 20 park rangers since its inception in 1991.
Alhaji Ibrahim Goni, the Conservator-General, National Parks Service, disclosed this at a pre-event news conference to mark the 2019 World Rangers Day in Abuja on Tuesday, July 30, 2019.
Goni said the World Rangers Day is celebrated round the world on July 31 to commemorate rangers killed or injured in the line of duty and to celebrate the bravery of those on the field.
He said that the day was also to celebrate the critical work rangers perform in protecting the world’s natural and agricultural treasures.
“Nigeria has lost 20 rangers and a few others have been injured or maimed since inception of the national park in 1991.
“In the last five years, 1,860 suspects have been arrested for various offences; some have been prosecuted, jailed, served jail time, paid the fine, or warned and released in line with the provision of the National Parks Service.
“The service however is not relenting in its efforts in ensuring the welfare of our rangers in terms of training and capacity building, support of families of fallen heroes, prompt payment of salaries and welfare.
“This will not only boost their ego but make them to feel they are part of the system.”
Goni said that Rangers all over the world were underequipped and underpaid and under-honoured and because they work in the remote areas media hardly captured their activities “and this is a major challenge’’.
He said the Federal Government was making efforts to ensure the national parks have enough staff to meet the demands of the national parks.
Goni said Federal Government had approved 120 more staff for the national park bringing the total number to 2,100, adding “they are still insufficient because not all are field staff’’.
He commended the Federal Government for allocating of over 50 per cent capital allocation to the agency for the first time this year, which he said had helped the service resolve some challenge to some extent.
“Every officer now enjoys the paramilitary payment structure, we have acquired some patrol vehicles and released them to some parks and also rehabilitated some tourist facilities in some of our parks.
“We are gradually acquiring technology and working with the office of the National Security Adviser so we can be licensed to use our drones to collect information and monitor the activities in the parks.
“This will not only save us time, and reduce expenditure on rangers and vehicles, it will also improve our monitoring activities because information will be gathered in the shortest possible time. ”
Speaking on the effects of insecurity in the country on tourism, Goni said there had been a decline in tourism since 1998 till date.
“Most tourists visit places that are security safe and our national parks are in the remote parts of the country, so tourist hardly visit there except the ones in the South.’’
He said the North West and North East had a decline of tourists because of the security challenges.
He said activities lined up for the celebration of the 2019 World Rangers Day include a parade which would be hosted by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment at the Park headquarters and awareness creation on the work of a ranger.
World Ranger Day is celebrated around the world on July 31 annually on the anniversary of the founding of the International Ranger Federation (IRF), an organisation that supports the work of rangers as the key protectors of parks and conservation.
By Okeoghene Akubuike