Nigeria has become the hot spot of illegal wildlife trafficking, especially pangolins. The country’s lack of law enforcement has made the life of local, international poachers and traffickers extremely easy. It is a daily occurrence to see people selling pangolins and various endangered species on plain sight and day light. WildaLife is conducting undercover investigation and rescue operations in the Nigerian wet-markets. Target of poachers and traffickers, the endangered Pangolin is considered the most trafficked mammal in the world. Pangolins are one of the most unique wild animals, known for being the only mammals with protective keratin scales covering their body. This keratin scale is used for traditional Asian medicine and actually does not hold any scientific or medicinal value.
Wildlife Exploitation and Habitat Loss Fuel Pandemic Risk. As the world reels from the coronavirus pandemic, this tragedy is spotlighting how wildlife trade and habitat destruction threaten human health. It shows how urgently we need to change our relationship with nature. The extinction emergency’s is caused by wildlife exploitation and the devastation of wild places where animals live. This put people at risk of encountering new zoonotic diseases like COVID-19.
Ecologically speaking, pangolins play a critical role in their ecosystems. They’re huge consumers of ants, termites and other insects. If they were to go extinct, local insect populations would explode by the trillions. Native to Africa and Asia, pangolins have become highly sought after, both as for food and for their scales, which are used to make products that are thought by some to have medicinal value in Asia. International Illegal commercial trade in pangolin product is legally banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species but pangolins are nonetheless targeted by poachers and smugglers, making them one of the most trafficked mammals in the world.
The possible origins of pandemics reminded the World why we should care about the illegal trade in Wildlife.
WildatLife has been working intensively in the notorious Nigerian wet-markets. These wet markets are a direct threat to human health and safety, as well as extremely cruel towards animals. Th proximity between people and wildlife in wet-markets carries huge disease risks. Infectious diseases cause about a quarter of human deaths. Of these deaths, almost 60% are zoonotic in origin. Of the zoonoses, more than 70% are from wildlife. COVID-19 — the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus — is a zoonotic disease. That means it came from an animal or animals. Researchers believe COVID originated from bat and pangolin (as the host).
In January, 2021, The Customs Service in Lagos, Nigeria, seized lion bones and pangolin scales worth 952 million Naira roughly £2 million, comprising of 162 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 8,800kgs.. Last year, Hong Kong and Singapore intercepted three huge shipments of pangolin scales weighing a combined 33.9 tonnes and worth more than £150million, based on estimates of their value in Singapore. Each shipment was bigger than any that had come from Africa before this year – and they all came from Nigeria.
Our Findings at Nigerian Wet Markets.
On our various inspections and undercover work in the Nigerian wet-markets, we witnessed an array of wild and endangered animals, both living and dead being abused and sold to highest bidders. The species we have witness were pangolins, sea turtles, bushbucks, nile monitors, dwarf crocodiles, duikers, civets, genets, pottos and monkeys, amongst many others. These animals were being trafficked and then slaughtered at these markets daily.
Our investigative work also shows a dog being boiled alive in a basin of dirty water at Oluwo Fish Market.
Wet markets are where wild animals are often held in open air environments, in close proximity, with little to no health and safety precautions nor sanitation measures. Wet-markets like Oluwo Fish Market located in Nigeria, facilitate and heavily contribute to the practice of illicit wildlife trade and in turn, this practice can lead to the spread of zoonotic diseases. These markets enables the spread of diseases from animals to other animals and pose a threat to human health.
This is why the non profit work of Wildatlife e.V is very important and can see our undercover teams face grave dangers working to investigate wildlife trafficking and wet-markets in order to put an end to this illegal trade. We must ban wet markets globally. Wet markets can be “time-bombs” for pandemics and have been the source of documented outbreaks in the past, including SARS and COVID-19 and puts nearly 9,000 species at risk of extinction.
Whilst our teams continued vital research at the wet markets in Nigeria, we conducted the emergency rescue of:
• White Bellied Pangolins
• Ridley Sea Turtles
• Infant Baboons
Ton, the infant Baboon, was locked inside a small bird cage after being poached from the wild and his mother murdered. He had no hope of escape. WildatLife e.V couldn’t justify leaving him at the Wet-market and joined forces with our partners from Greenfingers Wildlife Conservation Initiative. Together we unlocked Ton’s cage and whisked him away to safety.
Watch the remarkable transformation of little Ton:
We have successfully rehabilitated our rescued Pangolins back to the wild after they took expert care recovery at our partnering sanctuary in Lagos.
Watch the heart warming Video showing two pangolins released back to the wild. Ahead, freedom beckoned: a tangled, fern-filled forest. Another minute passed. Then two. Finally, slowly, it unfurled its slinky like body and quietly waddled into the darkness, never looking back:
We must Ban wet-markets globally and stop illegal wildlife trafficking and poaching of animals.
This is the only way to prevent future pandemics. Scientists estimate that more than 6 out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people can be spread from animals and 3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals. Most countries have a clear ban on consuming pangolins or wildlife for various purposes. In Nigeria, consuming pangolins or other endangered animal for food or other purpose — is widely spread. WildatLife will continue to investigate wildlife trafficking and wet-markets in order to stop poaching at the source, BUT to stop the demand it requires global collaboration to both reduce demand and increase protection and a total ban on wet-markets.
Please donate today to help support our vital work to prevent pangolins and other endangered species from extinction.