Working for birds in Africa

Conservation

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:07 -- abc_admin
Bioko_Batis_Nigeria

Nigeria Bioko Batis Batis poensis

Image Credit: 
Tasso Leventis
Jos_Plateau_Nigeria

Nigeria Jos Plateau

Image Credit: 
Tasso Leventis

Over the last 3 decades, Nigeria has witnessed unprecedented destruction of its natural resources so that less than 3% of the original rainforest cover now remains and large areas of savanna woodland in the north have been converted into farmlands. With a growing population of over 130 million people, the pressures are unlikely to abate so that the future survival of the country’s faunal resources is likely to be dependent on the maintenance of its 8 National Parks and the various game and forest reserves throughout the country. The National Parks cover an area of only 22,592 km2, about 2.5% of the country, so there is a pressing need to upgrade some of the other reserves into Parks to ensure that all habitat types are adequately protected within the Park system. Unfortunately, most forest and game reserves throughout the country receive little or no protection so they are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Even in the National Parks, poaching levels are a matter of concern although the habitat in the Parks has been largely spared the destruction elsewhere.

The poaching pressures throughout Nigeria have led to the demise of many of the larger birds in Nigeria so that Ostrich Struthio camelus are now restricted to a very small area in the north-east and similarly, Black Crowned Crane Balearica pavonina has all but been extirpated in the country. All species of bustard are now extremely scarce and the big vultures can only be seen with any reliability in the National Parks. Grey Parrots Psittacus erithacus once abundant throughout the south are now scarce as a result of the demand for the pet trade. The large forest hornbills are virtually restricted to the 2 Forest National Parks as a result of the hunting pressures. Apart from the birds, it is now almost impossible to see any large mammal outside of the National Parks so if the country is to retain a representative selection of its faunal resources, it is imperative to ensure that the Parks are totally protected.

Conservation News

14th February 2006: Illegal imports probable cause of Nigeria flu

The recent outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza in Nigeria shows that poultry movements can cause the virus to jump across countries and even continents. With poor enforcement of controls already blamed for outbreaks in China, south-east Asia and Turkey, the Nigerian outbreak further demonstrates that lapses in biosecurity are the major reason for avian influenza's continuing spread around the world.

Whilst the precise nature of the outbreak is unknown, it seems more than likely that the virus arrived through infected poultry brought into the country in defiance of Nigeria's import controls. Speaking at a press conference, Nigeria's Agriculture Minister, Adamu Bello said, "Birds come every day from China, Turkey, into Nigeria, and from Europe and also from Latin America. So Nigeria is exposed. Illegal importation of poultry by people who have farms, bringing in poultry from places and smuggling them in... could also have been a cause."

Mr Bello was also reported by Nigeria's Guardian newspaper group as saying: "We think someone may have imported or smuggled in contaminated birds."

"Globalisation has turned the chicken into the world’s number one migratory bird species," said Leon Bennun, Director of Science of BirdLife International. "Movements of chickens around the world take place 365 days a year, unlike the seasonal migrations of wild birds. It is important that strict biosecurity measures are imposed to stop further spread not only within Nigeria but also to neighbouring countries."

Source: BirdLife International News

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