By Rita Iliya
The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), an environmental NGO, has engaged women and hunters’ association within Kainji Lake National Park in Borgu Local Government Area of Niger on wildlife protection.
The NCF Project Coordinator in the state, Dr Stella Egbe, said that the one-day engagement session held at Borgu Youth Hall, New Bussa, was to create awareness among the park users for its conservation.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the foundation focuses on preservation of natural resources and biodiversity in the country.
It works in collaboration with International Union of Conservation of Nature Save Our Species, co-founded by the European Union.
Egbe, also the Senior Manager, Species Programme, NCF, said the participants were women and hunters from Kainji, Wawa and Ibbi communities living around the park.
“The aim is to identify their challenges to come up with alternative sources of livelihood for them aside their dependency on the park that serves as our heritage and tourist sites.
“The major activities of people in these communities are farming, hunting, cutting of trees for firewood and cattle rearing which put pressure on the park and result in forest degradation,” she said.
The coordinator said that the park which is 5,000 kilometres square in size, currently houses lions, leopards and other vital animal species.
Egbe said that encroachment and degradation on the park would result in loss of species.
“To conserve the lions, leopards and other species, we had to interact with members of the communities, especially the women and hunters, for an alternative means of livelihood to reduce conflict and dependency on the forest.
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“We are not saying that the hunters should not hunt, but they should not hunt lions and leopards. They should also not hunt other species of animals that are pregnant or with babies,” she said.
Hajiya Saratu Goni, Wife of the Conservator General, National Park Service, said the interaction would enable the participants have alternative sources of livelihood for their sustainability.
Zanna Lawan, the Park Conservator, represented by Usman Goni, the Park Warden, said the programme would enable the NGO to carry out its mandate effectively.
He said it would also help conservation as those who engage in tree cutting for economic purposes and hunting of vital species of animals would have alternative sources of livelihood.