The National Conservation Foundation (NCF) and the Department of Zoology, University of Lagos joined the rest of the world to celebrate the World Pangolin Day designed to create awareness on the wildlife animal.
In Nigeria, the NCF, the non-governmental organisation working for nature conservation, celebrated the World Pangolins Day calling for appropriate sanctions against traffickers of the animal to save it from imminent extinction in Nigeria.
Pangolin, a shy, nocturnal scaly anteater, is regarded as the most trafficked animal in the world with conservationists exploring ways to protect the endangered species.
Experts say pangolins are declining at an alarming rate because of the illegal trade in the mammals found in some African countries including Nigeria.
At the University of Lagos, experts including the founder of Pangolin Conservation Organization, Justin Miller, Chairman, Pangolin Conservation Working Group, Dr. Olajumoke Morenikeji, called for sustained global actions to stop illegal trade in the animal.
Head of Department of Zoology of the University, Prof. J.K Saliu, said Africa is home to four species of pangolins including the white bellied Pangolin; black bellied Pangolin; the Temminicks Ground Pangolin and Giant Ground Pangolin which are all vulnerable.
“The scales and bones of pangolins are prized for medicinal use locally and internationally. They are also eaten as an expensive delicacy, sold in markets and restaurants. Pangolins are recognized as the world’s most trafficked mammals,” he said.
The HOD said pangolins are useful in improving soil quality, adding that their large and elongated claws enable them to burrow underground for shelter and to excavate ant and termite mostly for food.
“They are also useful in pest control. A single pangolinconsumes as much as 70m insects per year mainly ants and termite. Pangolins therefore certainly help to control insect prey numbers contributing to the delicate balance of eco-systems they inhabit”, Saliu stated.
Dr. Akeredolu Excellence, another senior lecturer in the Department of Zoology and Chairman of LOC for the World Pangolin Day celebration stated that the animal faced threat of extinction, adding that concerted efforts must be made to save the animals.
“Under Nigeria Environmental Law, it is placed under schedule one as the animal that should not be killed or sold. The animal is to be preserved. Unfortunately in places like Lagos and others, the animal is being killed which is an offence in the world. If you do that in South Africa, you go to jail,” he said.