Femi Makinde, Osogbo
The National Conservation Foundation has warned against the trafficking and illegal killing of vultures in the country and called on security operatives and herb sellers to support the foundation in its efforts to stop the acts.
The Conservation Manager, Technical Programme of the NCF, Mr. Adedayo Mahmud, gave the warning in Osogbo on Friday at a workshop organised by the NCF for policemen, officers of the Nigerian Customs Service and herb sellers popularly known as elewe omo.
Mahmud said vultures played a very important role in the ecosystem, including the prevention of outbreak of diseases and sicknesses through their activities.
He said vultures also assist law enforcement agencies by flying over the area where poachers just killed wildlife animals, lamenting that poachers usually poisoned the birds in order to avoid being given away by their activities.
Mahmud said, “Vultures are being killed in large number despite their importance to the ecosystem. Vulture population has declined drastically but it is estimated that a single vulture provides a scavenging benefit of $11,600 per year.
“Vultures are also used in traditional medicine. The feathers and the heads are used for ritualistic purposes and they are exported to other countries. That is why we are seeking the support of the elewe omo and also security agencies to stop this.”
He advocated legislation to arrest and prosecute wildlife traffickers and other offenders including those fond of wildlife poisoning.
A lecturer at the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Managment, Osun State University, Dr. Wahab Munir, said it was unfortunate that vultures, despite their economic importance in the ecosystem, had become endangered species.
The don said vultures played significant roles in sustaining a healthy ecosystem but stated that if care was not taken, the birds might soon go into extinction.
He said, “Vulture extinction may lead to an outbreak of diseases because vultures eat remains of dead animals which could cause disease if nothing was done to them. Their extinction will allow feral dogs to move in on carcasses.”
The Secretary, Elewe Omo Association of Osun State, Mr. Taofek Azzez, said his colleagues were not criminals and assured the NCF that herb sellers would not kill or sell vultures.
According to him, the association will introduce the use of official receipt for whatever items bought from any of his members to track buyers and sellers.
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