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Kokolo Etiowo

Year-Prize: The 9th Eco-generation Environmental Essay Competition     Item: Fight against illegal trade in wildlife

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Winner's name: Kokolo Etiowo (Nigeria)
Prize: Honorable Mention

Illegal wildlife trade have become one of the largest and biggest threats to some of the world and nation endangered species of fauna and flora. Wildlife trade therefore can be expressed as the purchase and sell of products gotten from wild or non-domesticated animals and plants species gotten from their natural habitat. It has become a cancer that has eaten and is eating into our nation?s ecosystem and natural heritage. Thus, the fight against illegal trade of wildlife has become eminent.
The increase in illegal trade of wildlife over the year has been due to the increase in population. This has lead to an increase in the need for food. Hence, these wild animals and plants are hunted and harvested to serve as protein and food. The increase in population has also lead to lack of sufficient jobs. Therefore, the masses resolve to the commerce of these wild fauna and flora. This commerce has been proven to be very lucrative as it has a very high profit margin. Secondly, the increase in illegal trade of wildlife especially in my country Nigeria is due to the myth behind these plants and animals. Some tribes believe that the trunk of an elephant gives healing powers. They also believe that the feather of some birds helps to drive away witches and bad omen from around them. Some plants, example Iroko trees are said to have healing powers in leaves, stems, roots and bark. Thus, they are seriously harvested. Most communities believe that the possession of some parts of wild animals such as the skin of lions, tigers and snakes, the head and trunk of elephants and rhinos is a sign of royalty, power and security. So they go the extra mile to illegally buy, remove the skin and keep these wild animals. In addition, the weak judicial policy on illegal trade of wildlife in my country has lead to an increase in the trade of wildlife without punishment for this great offense against nature. This weak judicial policy has made illegal traders of wildlife very comfortable in the trade as they believe that no action can be taken against them.
The adverse effects of this illegal trade of wildlife in my country are numerous. One of the major effects is the interruption of the local ecosystem of that particular environment. It has lead to an imbalance in the feeding system of that environment. Just as overfishing causes imbalance in the whole marine system, over exploitation of fauna and flora species causes imbalance in the food chain of this wildlife system. Thus, there may be reduction in the number of plants and animals above or below the food chain which is not balanced. Secondly, the illegal trade of wildlife has lead to the incidental killing of non-target species such as human beings. The traps set for these wildlife species can accidentally catch a domestic specie or man, thereby killing them. Furthermore, most illegal traders use invading species such as deadly snakes, rats etc to chase after this wildlife to cages where they are then taken and sold. These invading species can multiply and subsequently be a trouble to the communities around that wildlife environment.
Illegal trade of wildlife can be stopped by public education on the need not to engage in such trade. This could be done in schools, market places and environments (villages) where this wildlife are taken from and sold. The people should be taught about the benefits of wildlife and the adverse effects of illegal trade of wildlife. This could be done at least four times a year and not leaving it only for the World?s Environmental Day.  Secondly, the government should make conservation parks in those places where wildlife is hunted and harvested for sale. Thus, those places become the possessions and responsibilities of the government. Therefore, the areas become untouchable. Also the government should bring up strong judicial policy against the purchase and sell of wildlife. They should also bring out and train law enforcement officers who will make sure that these policies are held to the last. Their duty will be to take in to custody anyone found in the act of illegally trading this wildlife. They will also be responsible for taking care of the conservation parks. Governments should also partner with the World Wide Fund formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) which aims to conserve nature and ecological process by preserving biodiversity, ensuring sustainable use of natural resources and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful use of resources and energy?.
In conclusion, the fight against illegal trade of wildlife in our country is a collective effort of everyone. We have the role of supporting regulations responsible for the safe keeping of our wildlife in other to protect and restore balance to our ecosystem. In addition, other means of feeding, shelter and jobs should be provided to the increasing population to prevent them from engaging in illegal trade of wildlife. This fight against illegal trade of wildlife is a fight that must be won and won fast which is now.


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