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NCF To Release Rescued 92 Grey Parrots To Wild After Rehabilitation

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By: ABBA BASHIR

About 92 Grey Parrots seized while being smuggled out of the country have been rehabilitated by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) and set to be released to the wild to continue their work in nature.

The Director General of NCF, Dr Joseph Onoja who made this known at a stakeholders’ Meeting of the foundation in Lagos said the rescue of the birds was in fulfilment of Nigeria’s obligation towards the protection of endangered organisms.

Onoja said as signatory to a number of treaties on nature protection , Nigeria is under obligation to save organisms under peril including the Grey Parrots.

Presenting the Director General’s Report Onoja said the foundation in 2022 “took custody of about 92 Grey Parrots seized by NESREA while being smuggled out of the country through Kano state. These birds have been in rehabilitation and will be released to the wild soon”, he said.

According to the NCF DG, “Saving species in peril is one of the 4 pillars of the NCF Strategic Action Plan. In this line, we embarked on a a project tagged Saving Wildcat sponsored by IUCN SOS at Kainji Lake National Park, Niger State. Workshops were organised for rangers and other stakeholders, followed by donation of equipment to aid rangers’ performance.

“Also NCF in partnership with Lagos State Free Trade zone embarked on a project to save Sea turtles in Ibeju Lekki.

“It will interest you that we have about 5 species of Sea turtles that birth in Nigeria shores. Five of them come here,they lay their eggs and then they go across the world . It’s been shown that they live here and then go as far as Brazil. But they come here to lay their eggs.

“But community members usually go and harvest these eggs and that was why there was need for us to collaborate with the Free Trade Zone so that we would be able to talk to these communities to stop hunting these Sea turtle and also stop harvesting their eggs.”

“In our bid to boost the save vulture campaign strategy, we launched Wildlife Ambassador in May”,he noted.

Onoja said among numerous other sustainability efforts, the foundation conducted environmental education for about 75 children aged 7 to 17, “in a summer camp out at Lekki Conservation Centre to expose them to practical conservation actions.

“In the year under review, we implemented a Climate Change project in Kwara State, tagged climate change resilience project by the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives through the Canadian High Commission in Nigeria.

“Biochar training was organised for the women and youth of the community of River Kampe, Patigi LGA, Kwara State in March 2020. While International Day of Forests was held in collaboration with the Kwara State Ministry of Environment at Ilorin in April.

“Similarly,phase 2 of Clean our World , an Oando Foundation initiative implemented in batches across the year. This commenced in February. In partnership with the Federal Ministry of Environment,NCF held the Convention on Biodiversity workshop in Abuja in March 2020 to develop a strategy document to galvanize Nigeria’s position in preparations for the negotiations in Montreal Canada at the CoP15.

“NCF signed an MoU with Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Unizik) and University of Calabar (Unical) . The MoU with Unical was part of NCF species programme. The programme titled Community Conservation Graduate Student Scholarship Programme seeks to protect Cross River gorilla. It is sponsored by Wilder Institute /Calgary Zoo, Canada. This programme which involves other partners like the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation Research and the University of Calabar will offer scholarships to 2 PHD students and 3 Masters students within 5 years.

“Walk for Nature remains a policy and advocacy campaign tool for NCF, done in collaboration with Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources. It was held simultaneously at 3 locations-Ikoyi/Obalende LCDA, Ikeja and Surulere LGAs.

“A workshop to review the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles developed 10 years ago held at Eko hotels, Lagos. The 2 days workshop had in attendance, representatives of major financial institutions in Nigeria including the apex bank of Nigeria. We used the various global environment days to create awareness about conservation. Among them were World Environment Day, Earth Hour, Wetlands Day, Pangolin Day, World Wildlife Day, World Migratory Birds Day, Mangrove Day , International Vultures Awareness Day and many others”, highlighted Onoja.

On his part, the President, Board of Trustees of NCF, Chief Izoma Philip Asiodu (CFR, CON) who presided over the meeting called on need for Nigerians in their millions to get involved in nature conservation in order to achieve the Green Recovery Nigeria (GRN) programme of restoring the nation’s forest cover to 25 percent by year 2050 as recommended of experts.

Chief Asiodu pointed out that as part of it’s efforts to achieve the ambitious target, the foundation in 2022 alone planted and nurtured over 2 million trees nationwide, with supports from numerous partners.

He emphasized that for four decades , the foundation has achieved sustained environmental impact through consistent implementation of programmes that helped restore and conserve the environment,promoted species, provided environmental education for many students and youths all over the country and supported community livelihood.

According to Chief Asiodu in a speech, “In terms of concrete conservation projects, we were able to plant and nurture over 2 million trees across Nigeria under the Green Recovery Nigeria (GRN) Programme of the Foundation that has an ambitious target of restoring Nigeria’s forest cover to 25% by 2050.

“We are grateful to our international and local partners whose support made this possible – the AFR100, the Federal Ministry of Environment, the National Agency for the Great Green Wall, ATC Nigeria, Pernod Ricard Nigeria, Stanbic IBTC Bank, and a host of others. Other projects targeted at saving species in peril and tackling the climate crisis were also implemented across the country in partnership with the IUCN, the Wilder Institute Calgary Zoo, and others.

“I must emphasize that in this as in many other desirable conservation targets, we still have a very long way to go. Recently in response to my repeated questioning about the number of trees required for a given area, I was informed by our Director-General that – I am quoting “It should take 10,000,000 trees to100sq km”. So you can compare the figures. Sometime in early 1980s, the Nigerian Government, following FAO recommendation committed the country to return to 25% forest cover – that is about 250,000sq km. Nearly 4 decades later we are still with less than 4% forest cover”.

Chairman, National Executive Council of the foundation, Chief Ede Dafinone, who also identified species conservation as a key strategic plan of the NCF, pointed that that they embarked on aggressive rescue mission to save the likes of African forest elephants,cross river gorillas, pangolin,vultures, sea turtles,lions among others.

“The year 2020 was indeed a landmark and significant year for NCF and partners. We lines up activities to showcase and celebrate 40 years of creating sustained environmental impact in Nigeria, with the general theme, ONLY ONE EARTH. The highlight of the 40th anniversary celebration was the glamorous event that marked the 20th anniversary of our flagship programme, the Chief S. L Edu Memorial Lecture. The event featured the streaming of a conversation with the globally acclaimed English broadcaster, natural historian and author, Sir David Attenborough.

“While the celebrations were going on, we ensured we carry on with implementation of programmes, projects,events and activities under the Foundation’s Strategic Action Plan (SAP) 2021-2025.

“In partnership with Anambra State Ministry of Environment, Nigeria Erosion and Water Shed Management Programme (NEWMAP) , Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Community Resource Management and Conservation Initiative (CRMCI) and with support from ATC Nigeria Wireless Infrastructure Limited. A total of 10,812 trees were planted under the partnership. The trees planted are 90% economic trees , with potential of providing rural economic value chain, provide jobs and support food security and 10% exotic trees to support soil erosion resistance.

The meeting was attended by some members of NCF NEC including renown environmentalist, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi; follows of the foundation and school children who had been integral part of NCF’s activities.

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