Imo govt to upgrade state’s zoo, create Bureau for Wildlife and Habitat Conservation

By Valentine Amanze

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, has assured that he would recover all designated Federal Forest reserves in the state and create a special Bureau for Wildlife and Habitat Conservation for diligent policy implementation.
The governor disclosed this during the 2020 World Wildlife Day held at the Ahiajoku Convention Centre, Owerri.
He commended the United Nations and other international and national stakeholders, who initiated the project for choosing Imo State as host.
The governor also pointed out that the World Wildlife celebration, which is on its seventh edition, presents stakeholders with the challenge of a sober soul search on how stakeholders have related with, preserved or destroyed nature.
His words: “Today’s celebration fast-tracks the question boldly and loudly to the fore of the inner recess of our consciences, both as individuals and as leaders of our respective nations and organizations, to wit: In our life time we have added value to the preservation of the natural habitat, biodiversity or the wildlife we met on earth, or have we helped to ravage, deplete or destroy it? My candid take is that we are all guilty of not doing enough to preserve the natural habitat we met.
“Through our actions and inactions, the conservation of our national biogenetic pools today has direct impact on our generation and the future generations.”

The governor recalled that it was a common knowledge that Africa’s forefathers used natural herbs from the ecosystem to cure the diseases that afflicted them in their time.
“Even today, most of the modern medicines are derived from herbs and roots and if humanity continues to recklessly abuse our ecosystem, what then is the way forward for the world, and Nigeria?” he asked.

Going forward, Governor Uzodimma advocated for a globally renewed drive to strengthen local and international legislations to protect wildlife and biodiversity, especially the endangered species.
He called on the international community to raise the bar on public enlightenment against habitat degradation.
The governor, however, expressed dismay over the reality that virtually all wildlife facilities in the South East had been washed away by land speculators leaving only the Imo State Zoo and wildlife park that is currently living on a life support machine.
The governor assured that urgent steps would be taken under his watch to remedy the situation, which includes: Reviewing the extant laws on wildlife and conservation, aggressive enforcement of all conservation laws, immediate steps to be taken to recover all government land meant for habitat conservation but illegally acquired by individuals; immediate recovery of all designated federal forest reserves in the state with concrete steps taken to ward off further encroachment;uupgrade of Imo Zoo and Wildlife Park to international standards.
Besides, he pledged to create a Special Bureau for Wildlife and Habitat Conservation for diligent policy implementation.

The guest lecturer, Prof. Samuel Oluwalana, of the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, who spoke on the theme: “Sustaining All Life on Earth,” harped on the economic importance of wildlife in medicine and noted, “life can be conserved if our ecosystem is preserved.”
He commended the Imo State government for ensuring that wildlife does not go into extinction, noting that the state could earn foreign exchange through export of grasscutter and its likes.
In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Sabina Onwuchi, thanked the National Association of Zoological Garden and Wildlife Parks for their choice of Imo for 2020 wildlife life celebration.

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