By Christian Njoku
The Director, Cross River Landscape Programme of Wildlife Conservation Society of Nigeria, Dr Ina-Oyon Imong, says Nigeria has lost 90 per cent of her original forest cover due to human activities.
Imong who stated this in Calabar on Sunday during the celebration of the World Wildlife Day, said over 50 per cent of the remaining forest cover was found in Cross River.
He said that only in small areas across the country that forests were still intact, adding that within those areas, the forests were fragmented and effectively isolating wildlife population.
The director said that the situation might lead to the extinction of some species.
“Globally, wildlife is under threat due to human activities ranging from hunting to habitat destruction such as farming, bush burning, logging, road construction, and so on.
”In Nigeria, the problem is that there is over exploitation of the wildlife; households want to generate income and food and so, they endanger our habitat.
”There is a greater demand for land now due to overpopulation and not everyone appreciates the value of our animal species beyond being bush meat.
”The Wildlife Conservation Society is working with government at all levels and communities to help conserve our important sites.
“It does this by training and supporting locals to have an alternative source of livelihood and providing equipment for rangers who go out to enforce laws protecting our wildlife,” he said.
The expert said the theme of this year’s celebration, “Life below Water: For People and Planet,” was apt.
He said it was a great opportunity to draw attention to the incredible diversity of marine life the country had and how they were being threatened.
”Our rivers are polluted with chemicals from factories and motorised boats make so much noise causing noise pollution on our water bodies.
”There is also the problem of plastic wastes that is everywhere in our oceans and rivers.
“I fear that not long from now our fishes and other wildlife bodies will begin to feed on plastics; you can imagine what the consequences would be,” he said.
The World Wildlife Day is celebrated annually on March 3 to raise awareness on the world’s wild animals and plants.