Nigeria to investigate killings of endangered wildlife, environment minister says

By Ahmed Kingimi and Isaac Anyaogu

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria will investigate the killing of endangered wildlife after a video posted on social media showed a soldier killing two elephants in the northeastern Borno state, the environment minister said on Friday.

The video has widely circulated on X, formerly known as Twitter, sparking outrage among Nigerians, who have condemned the killing of the animals that were reportedly roaming in farmlands and called for stricter measures to protect endangered wildlife.

In addition to the elephants, two booted eagles that migrated from Europe were killed in northwestern Kebbi and Sokoto states last month, and a university professor was reportedly involved in the killing of another elephant in the southwestern city of Ibadan.

Minister of State for Environment Iziaq Salako said the investigation would cover all recent incidents of wildlife killings, including those in Kebbi, Sokoto and Ibadan.

“The brutal killings of these wildlife not only reflect a blatant disregard for the importance of wildlife preservation but also highlight the urgent need for enhanced awareness,” Salako said.

Over the past three decades, Nigeria’s elephant population has declined drastically, plummeting from an estimated 1,500 to less than 400, according to conservationists.

Habitat loss, poaching for ivory, and human-elephant conflict are the primary threats to Nigeria’s native elephant population.

Nigeria, despite being a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), is considered a major hub for illegal wildlife trafficking including ivory and pangolin scales.

According to Bosede Olukanni, head of CITES and wildlife management at Nigeria’s Ministry of Environment, the recent killings are only a few examples of the challenges facing wildlife in the country.

(Edited by Elisha Bala-Gbogbo and Aurora Ellis)