One of Nigeria’s leading environmental groups dedicated to nature conservation and sustainable development, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), has expanded its campaign against the decline of vultures and the illegal wildlife trade (IWT) by including some celebrities in the crusade.
The NCF has, since 2017, launched a project called the “Save Vulture Campaign,” an effort to educate the public about the conservation of vulture species and the negative impact of their extinction on human health and the economy. In expanding the scope of this campaign, an intense battle against the IWT was incorporated into it to help harmonize and synergize strategies and efforts to achieve a better outcome.
The Save Vulture project is funded by the European Union – Life and United State Fish and Wildlife Services. The Foundation had involved some other personalities in the past on the same issue. They were Frank Dunga (comedian), Yumi Fash-Lansou (film producer/actor), Tito Da Fire (musician/OAP) and Sei Asorf (film producer). The new group of campaign ambassadors – Maryam Longi, co-host of TVC YourView; Sion Akindel, Nollywood Actor; and Yvonne Gigi, a Nollywood actress, both opened at the Lekki Conservation Center last week.
The three new additions were chosen based on their cloud impact on the bustling youth and their impact on the entertainment industry. The involvement of this trio will help intensify public awareness of nature conservation while driving active youth participation in environmental and wildlife conservation.
The Director General of NCF, represented by Director of Business Development and Communications Mr. Uchi Ashunin, highlighted the crux of the campaign regarding the importance of celebrity engagement. He further revealed that the quest to save critically endangered wildlife, especially vulture species, is a matter of urgency and a matter of grave concern to all.
About seven years ago, research was conducted, facilitated by BirdLife Africa and IUCN, and it was discovered that the vulture was declining at an alarming rate. In Nigeria in particular, we have been rapidly losing “nature” health officials to threats such as religious belief, electrocution, habitat loss, and illegal trade,” he said.
While giving a presentation on the status of the project, NCF Senior Director Mr. Ayodele Alamo said that efforts have been made in addressing the rapid decline of Eagle. He revealed that Africa has about 11 species of vultures, 6 of which can be found in Nigeria are on the verge of extinction if drastic steps are not taken.
Nigeria is home to seven of the eleven vultures found in Africa. They are the Egyptian-Neophronpercnopterus vulture (Endangered), the Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtesmonachus (Endangered), the White-backed Gypsavirican (Endangered), the White-headed Trigonocepsoccipitalis (Endangered), Ruppell’s Griffon – Gyprueppaxure (Endangered) and the Endangered Lapis-faced Vulture – Targostracchiliotus – (Endangered).
“The only species that seem to thrive in the country are the masked eagle and the walnut eagle. In her response, Longi revealed that being an ambassador for this campaign in the past two years motivated her to publish a delightful children’s book called Eagles to the Rescue! Cleaning crew.
While Akindele appreciated the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for the campaign, he shared his visit to The Gambia where he saw birds flying everywhere, including the eagle, that made him wonder what happened to Nigeria that some bird species are disappearing so fast. The ambassadors pledged their commitment to this project. They were awarded prizes.