By Ademu Usman Idakwo
In Nigeria, Cross River State has been reported to have at least 70 per cent of the remaining forest with the largest mangrove ecosystem.
The biodiversity has made those forests to be home to many wild animals.
The escalating deforestation by the people for extraction of woods for logging and other domestic uses has exposed the animals to harm as the habitats were being destroyed.
The biodiversity habitat destruction has led to animals running into the villages and becoming prey to the villagers who kill and maim them at will for consumption or sale.
A case in point was a village in Akamkpa Local Government Area of the state where people gathered around Six Porcuppines that strayed into the town in broad daylight and killed them.
This beautiful animals were surrounded by villagers who were at a local beer parlour on sighting the porcupines running around and smatched them with stones.
What a cruel death!
According to Macmillan Okon, an indigene of the community who spoke with AFRICA ANIMAL MEDIA, said in recent times animals used to come to the town, especially when the weather is hot to stay under the big trees behind the houses for shelter.
He said “Like my daddy’s garden we have killed almost eight Grass Cutters in the last two weeks.
We keep water in a big bowl for them to come and drink, then we hide behind the wall with a big stick once they come and start drinking the water we take on them .”
On why the animals were always coming to the village, Okon claimed that they mostly came to drink water because most of the ponds in the forests are now dry because of the falling of the trees that cover the water from the intensity of the sun.
The 27-year-old man further narrated that the community is also experiencing the visit of wild animals like Gorillas and big cats.
“But this one, it is the hunters that used to help us by shooting them to death. Honestly, there are some villages here where people fear going out at night because of gorillas. Some times they are seen walking on the foot path leading houses from the farms without feeling that they run into human .
Though it has gradually reduced because we engaged the services of the hunters to deal with the situation”. He stated
Okon’s narration of wild animal’s threats is one of the consequences of disturbing their habitats.
They have no place to stay and rest; the water in the ponds in the forests is drying off as a result of exposure to the scorching sun.
No more fruits and herbs for them to eat, even though some are carnivorous they may still eat some herbs and fruits but these were plundered away by the timber contractors.
It was further revealed that the forest guards who are saddled with the responsibility of protecting the forests from being destroyed by the timber contractors are said to be corrupt.
Once they catch an offender, he or she will be free upon greasing their palms with money.
The Cross Rivers State National Park whose sole responsibility is to conserve biodiversity to sustain conservation has also turned a blind eye or may lack the needed resources to tackle the challenges in the area.
But the time to act is now !!!!