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Nigerian icons protect pangolins by reducing demand for illegal bushmeat

On World Pangolin Day, Nigeria’s leading personalities from the realms of music, comedy, sports, and business have come together to shine a spotlight on the urgent need to address the devastating impacts of the illegal wildlife on pangolins and the use of Nigeria as an export hub for trafficking pangolin scales.

The campaign, spearheaded by Wild Africa and supported by a wide array of Nigerian media organisations, has brought together a stellar line-up of renowned Nigerian personalities including 2Face, Davido, Ali Baba, Emanuella, Alex Iwobi, Josh2Funny and several other celebrities who have committed their voices and influence to amplify the escalating threats posed by the illegal wildlife trade, particularly on pangolins.

“By leveraging the power of public figures and the influence they wield, this campaign aims to turn the tide for pangolins and make Nigeria a regional leader in fighting wildlife crime,” said Dr. Mark Ofua, Wild Africa’s West Africa spokesperson.

Pangolins are the most trafficked mammals in the world, partly because their scales are in great demand for use in traditional medicine in Asia. As pangolin populations in Asia have declined, shipments from Africa have greatly increased to meet soaring demand. According to the Wildlife Justice Commission, 55 percent of pangolin scale seizures worldwide between 2016 and 2019 were linked to Nigeria.

A recent survey of 1,000 Nigerians conducted by Lagos-based Market Surveys International found that 88 percent are aware of Wild Africa’s campaign, with 97 percent of people aged 10-17 years reporting that they remember the campaign. Additionally, 86 percent said they would no longer kill or consume because of learnings from the campaign and 31 percent said they have stopped consuming bushmeat due to the campaign. Furthermore, 91 percent signified their intention to substitute bushmeat with other sources of protein like chicken, fish, and meat from goat, cattle and turkey.

The impact and reach of the campaign could be attributed to several factors, including increased coverage of wildlife issues by Nigerian news organisations, Wild Africa’s widely-seen public service announcements featuring Nigerian celebrities as well as several other engaging content pieces like Dr. Mark’s Animal Show which targets kids and teenagers and has been broadcast by several TV channels in Nigeria, including Silverbird TV, StarTimes, and Teen Africa TV.

Founder and CEO of Wild Africa Peter Knights OBE stated: “Once aware of the issues, leading Nigerians and media have been incredibly supportive of better wildlife protection and we truly believe the country can lead the region in safeguarding pangolins and other endangered wildlife.”