Philip Izoma Asiodu, CFR, CON, President, Board of Trustees, Speech for 2016 Walk for Nature Event Of The Nigerian Conservation Foundation, in Collaboration With The Lagos State, Ministry Of The Environment, At The State House, Marina, Lagos, On October 15, 2016.
His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State,
Commissioners and senior officials,
Friends of Nature,
Gentlemen of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, the National Executive Council and Management of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), I hereby welcome everyone to this year’s edition of Walk for Nature, as organised by NCF in conjunction with the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment.
Thank you all for participating in the education and awareness march today and I am especially grateful to the Lagos State Government for the continued support for this very important event that has proven successful over the years in promoting sustainable environmental practices.
The Foundation’s profound gratitude also goes to the sponsors and partners of this year: Chevron Nigeria Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc., A.G. Leventis Nigeria Plc., UACN Property Development Company Plc., Fan Milk Plc. and Seven Up Bottling Company Plc. It is encouraging to be part of this exercise with you, public spirited organisations and individuals, as we champion a cause for a secure future.
Protect Wildlife, Protect our Heritage, which is the theme for the Walk this year, is so apt as illicit trade and trafficking in wildlife parts has pushed most wildlife species to the brink of extinction. Currently, some wildlife species that render valuable services in the ecosystem and contribute to the sustainability of the environment have been pushed to the brink of extinction, with many on the list of Critically Endangered species.
A case in point is that of Africa’s Vulture species which are now at a higher risk of extinction according to the latest assessment of birds carried out by Birdlife International.
The elephants, too, are hapless victims of wildlife trade. It is estimated that one elephant is hacked down every 15 minutes, making it urgent for countries to close their domestic elephant ivory trade routes and markets that are fueling this cruel act.
Pangolins, rhinoceroses, sea turtles, chimpanzees, gorillas and many other fauna and flora species have also headlined the agenda of Conservationists at several fora in recent time as more and more of them now make the list of endangered species because of wildlife trade.
Pangolins, for example, have unfortunately been rated the world’s most trafficked mammals, with more than a million pangolins estimated to have been poached from the wild in the past decade. This is because current protections have not been adequate to control unceasing demand for their meat and scales believed to have curative powers in the keratin found in them. The demand comes from many parts of the world, particularly, Asia.
But apart from the economic and environmental importance of these wildlife, humans are also under a moral obligation for their protection. This is why we support the efforts of countries advocating against the legislation of rhino horn trade during the September 24 to October 5 Conference of the Parties (CoP) 17 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in Johannesburg, South Africa.
We also commend the efforts of governments and corporate organisations that have shown greater commitments to the protection of the environment and the ecosystem in their activities.
We therefore enjoin individuals, corporate organisations and governments at states and Federal levels to support NCF in our Green Recovery Nigeria Initiative as we strive towards the recovery of the lost forest cover in the nation.
Thank you all once again for participating in the Walk today.