UNODC to support wildlife and forest sectors

Adeze Ojukwu

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

(UNODC) has pledged support for support both the wildlife and forest sectors in Nigeria.

The agency today, said its ‘Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime and the Corruption and Economic Crime Branch have developed practical tools to support wildlife management authorities to strengthen their capacity to mitigate against the risk of corruption that prevents them from achieving their mandate to protect wildlife.’

This was contained in a statement, made available to www.devcomradar.org magazine, by UNODC communications associate, Ms. Olivia Ogechi Okorondu.

The statement  reads, ‘The Government of Nigeria has requested UNODC’s support for interventions to tackle wildlife crime, including the conduct of a corruption risk assessment (CRA) for the wildlife and forestry sectors in Nigeria.’

‘Consequently, UNODC in partnership with the relevant national ministries, departments and agencies is undertaking a series of activities to facilitate corruption risk assessments and the development of corresponding corruption risk mitigation strategies for Nigeria’s wildlife and forest sectors.’

‘This intervention is being funded by the European Union through the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).’

‘The first phase of the CRA will focus on the wildlife sector and, in particular, the Nigeria Customs Service and the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), as the two main agencies with a mandate to counter illegal wildlife trade in Nigeria.’

‘There is a high pressure on Nigerian wildlife, where pangolins, forest elephants and other endangered species, are traded both domestically and internationally.’

‘Animals are hunted for their bushmeat and body parts, such as pangolin scales and elephant ivory tusks. The country’s deforestation has also led to further decrease in endangered animals.’

‘Nigeria is not only a source of wildlife products, but also a major transit country. There appears to be geographic consolidation of trafficking routes across several markets, with Nigeria emerging as a key source/transit country for many shipments of protected species and products.’

‘According to a report of the CITES, Elephant Trade Information System to COP17, Nigeria is the second most prominent ivory exporting country of West Africa, functioning as a major ivory hub that draws in ivory from Central Africa and, increasingly, as far away as East Africa.’

UNODC’s World Wildlife Crime Report (WWCR) 2020, found that, in 2019 alone, at least 51 tons of pangolin scales seized globally originated from Nigerian ports, compared to only 2 tons in 2015.’

‘More than half of all seizures of pangolin scales worldwide could be traced back to Nigeria in 2019. Data further suggests an increasing role of Nigeria in the illicit ivory trade. Despite a global decline in trafficking in ivory since 2011, Nigeria has been identified in a growing number of incidents as part of the illegal trade chain.’

The January 2021 seizure at the Apapa Ports by the Nigeria Customs Service of 20 feet container containing the remains of various endangered species further highlights and buttresses these findings in the WWCR 2020.’

‘The container included 2,772 pieces of elephant tusks of different shapes weighing about 4,752kg; 162 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 5,329kg; 5kg of rhino horns, dried and fresh animal bones; 103 kg of skulls suspected to be of lions and other wild cat; and 76 pieces of timber (semi processed and processed.’

‘The corruption risk management is a structured, systematic method designed to identify the vulnerabilities of corruption and devise actions to minimize these vulnerabilities.’

‘The process sensitizes wildlife authorities on corruption-related issues, supports them in undertaking the corruption risks management process, and provides them with a concrete plan that will support a better governance within the target institutions. It is to be noted that the process aims to reduce the risk of future corruption and is not intended to identify past corruption.’

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