The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), the leading environment NGO dedicated to nature conservation and sustainable development in Nigeria, has expanded its campaign against vulture decline and Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) by engaging some celebrities in the crusade.
Co-host of TVC Your View, Mariam Longe; and two Nollywood actors, Seun Akindele; and Yvonne Jegede were inaugurated last Thursday at Lekki Conservation Centre as the new set of campaign ambassadors.
Since 2017, NCF commenced a project tagged “Save Vulture Campaign”, an effort targeted at sensitising the public about the conservation of vulture species and the adverse effect of their extinction on human health and the economy.
In expanding the scope of this campaign, an intensive battle against IWT has been integrated into it to help harmony and synergise strategies and efforts at achieving better result.
The Foundation had engaged some other personalities in the past for the same cause. They were Frank Donga (comedian), Yomi Fash-Lanso (movie producer/actor), Tito da fire (musician/on-air-personality) and Seyi Asurf (movie producer).
The three new ambassadors were selected based on their cloud of influence on the teeming youth and impact in the entertainment industry. Engaging these trio will help to intensify public awareness about nature conservation while driving active youth engagement in environmental and wildlife conservation.
NCF Director General, Dr Muhtari Aminu-Kano, who was represented by Director of Business Development and Communications, Mr Uche Achunine highlighted the essence of the campaign vis-à-vis the importance of involving celebrities. He said that the drive to save wildlife critically being endangered, especially vulture species is considered urgent and an utmost concern for all.
“About seven years ago, research was conducted, facilitated by BirdLife Africa and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and it was discovered that vulture was declining at a very alarming rate, especially in Nigeria. We were fast losing the “Nature”s Sanitary Officers” to threats such as religious belief, electrocution, loss of habitat, illegal trading etc”, he said.
While stating the efforts NCF has made in tackling rapid decline of vulture, the Head, Business Development and Communications, Mr Ayodele Alamu said that the Foundation has been to many states in the country because of the project. He revealed that Africa has about 11 vulture species, six of which could be found in Nigeria are at the verge of extinction if drastic steps are not taken.
Nigeria is home to seven out of the eleven vultures that exist in Africa. They are Egyptian Vulture – Neophronpercnopterus (Endangered), Hooded Vulture – Necrosyrtesmonachus (Endangered), White-backed Gypsafricanus (Endangered), White-headed – Trigonocepsoccipitalis (Vulnerable), Ruppell’s Griffon – Gyprueppellii (Endangered), Palm-nut Vulture – Gypohieraxangolensis (Least Concern) and Lappet-faced Vulture -Torgostracheliotus – (Endangered).The only species that seem to be thriving in the country are the Hooded Vulture and Palm-nut Vulture.
In her response, Longe revealed that being an Ambassador for this campaign in the past two years motivated her to publish a well-illustrated colourful book titled “Vultures to the Rescue! The Clean-up Crew”, to the delight of children.
Akindele appreciated the opportunity to serve as a campaign ambassador and said that his visit to The Gambia, where he saw birds flying all over, including vulture, left him wondering what happened to Nigeria that some species of birds are fast disappearing.
The Ambassadors pledged their commitment to the project. They were presented with awards by NCF Life Fellows, Mr Olakunle Falola and Mrs Magret Akinsefunmi.
Save Vulture project is funded by EU-Life and United State Fish and Wildlife Services.