NAZAP, as the national Zoo Association in Nigeria, has engaged the Imo State Government in recent times on their suspicious and ill-advised decision to wind up the State’s historic Zoo at Nekede, Owerri.
It was considered that such major translocation of wildlife involved in such winding up should be guided or carried out in concert with relevant professional stakeholders, especially the federal agencies that superintend wildlife. Moreover, the proposed site for the new zoo promised by the State Government ought to be fully developed and ready before the relocation of the wildlife exhibits from the current Nekede site.
However, against all rational and professional ethics and recommendations, and without further recourse to our earlier interface, the Imo State officials commenced the evacuation of the wildlife exhibits to Jos Wildlife Park. Both the Imo State Zoo and Jos Wildlife Park are members of NAZAP, but this massive translocation of wildlife was not communicated to the network of stakeholders for professional inputs as should be the norm.
Moreover, there are clear indicators that Jos Wildlife Park has major maintenance deficits as to make the facility unsuitable to received such large number of wildlife, along with necessary quarantine procedure for the containment of possible spread of wildlife disease and genetic pollution.
As the shock of this unexpected events unfold, it should be recalled that Imo State Zoo was one of the thriving Zoos in Nigeria, until recent years when the State Government became derelict in its responsibilities to the Zoo, while making contrary policy statements of supporting the conservation schemes of the zoo.
NAZAP therefore stands in absolutely condemnation of this move of translocating the Zoo’s wildlife without due diligence. NAZAP is in urgent consultation with all concerned for necessary damage control as some of the animals could die in transit or upon arrival in Jos.
Nothing short of distress to the animals will result from this translocation, in addition to other mounting logistical and technical problems.
It is also important to note that the loss of Imo State Zoo as a major conservation hub in the Southeast of Nigeria is a tragedy of national and international proportions.
Finally, on a sad note, one of the three Leo Pantheras is dead. This is an endangered specie rapidly losing numbers in Nigeria. This will not be taken lightly by all quarters.
NAZAP assures the conservation community of its commitment to see to the protection of animals from abuse and will be coming up with further updates on this matter.