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More innovation, collaboration needed to protect elephants in Nigeria, says Wild Africa Fund

More innovation, collaboration needed to protect elephants in Nigeria, says Wild Africa Fund
August 12
15:05 2023

The Wild Africa Fund, a global non-governmental organisation, says more innovation and collaboration are needed to protect elephants in Nigeria.

In a statement on Saturday by Festus Iyorah, Wild Africa Fund Nigeria representative, to commemorate World Elephant Day, the international wildlife NGO hailed the efforts of its partners in Zimbabwe and Nigeria working to protect elephants while encouraging the government to safeguard national parks home to forest elephants.

The organisation said while Africa boasts approximately 415,000 elephants, Nigeria grapples with multifaceted challenges threatening its native elephant population.

The Wild Africa Fund added that habitat loss, poaching for ivory, and human-elephant conflict are the major threats elephants face in Nigeria.

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“Over the past 30 years, Nigeria’s elephant population has dramatically declined from an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 two decades ago to a current estimate of 300 to 400,” the statement read.

“Nigeria, like Zimbabwe, can immensely benefit from sustainable wildlife tourism and conservation initiatives that protect elephants. In places like Zimbabwe, innovative measures are emerging.

“In Zimbabwe, Wild Africa Fund partnered with the Tikobane Trust to use an elephant repellent, a concoction including chili, garlic, and rotten eggs, and presents a non-lethal method of conflict resolution. Likewise, the Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Programme experiments with deterrents like chili fences and reflective barriers.

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“In Nigeria, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has been using satellite collars to enhance the monitoring of elephant movements, allowing for a more prompt response when they venture outside the reserve. This has effectively reduced Human- Elephant Conflicts (HEC) incidents, including the use of elephant guardians, construction watchtowers, and the establishment of beehive and odorous elephant fences.

“Wild Africa Fund encourages more innovations and collaboration to save elephants in other parts of Nigeria, especially in state-managed forest reserves in southwest Nigeria like Omo in Ogun state and Idanre in Ondo state, where forest elephants face severe logging pressures and agricultural encroachments.”

According to Wild Africa Fund, unprotected sites like Itasin in southwest Nigeria, where some elephants from the Omo forest reserve migrated to and a hotspot for Human-Elephant Conflicts (HEC), should be prioritised with local solutions that protect elephants from humans.

“In addition, we must prioritise the legal protection of the smaller unprotected sites where elephants are still endangered to prevent their potential extinction and continuous clash with humans,” Iyorah said.

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