Conservation: Organisation sensitises hunters on illegal trade in wildlife

From left, Ms Olapeju Olayemi, with members of her team displaying handcrafted elephant-themed wood handbags after the seminar.

TRADING in wildlife is frowned upon by many countries of the world, and as such, there is need to also sensitise Nigerian hunters on the practice across the globe. Therefore, the participation of hunters and indigenous people is considered as an important feature of any scheme to protect wildlife. So the 2016 World Environment Day’s theme was celebrated with hunters in Osse River Park community in Ondo State.

To commemorate the theme of the 2016 World Environment Day, the Chibok Wood Haute Couturem in collaboration with Cruelty Free Eco Fashion Week and National Education Innovation, recently held a one-month sensitisation programme to educate Osse River Park community people on how to conserve wildlife.

The organisations had series of educative programmes in Owani, Idoani, Ipele, Ifon, Iwese, Ago Alao, Ago Daji, Molege Elegbeka, Oba-Ile and other communities from June 5 to July 4, 2016.

Addressing participants at the event’s grand finale which took place in the Osse, Ms Olapeju Olayemi, CEO of Chibok Wood Haute Couture, said wildlife is facing too many cruel killings inflated on them for illegal trade in their skin to manufacture handbags. She said everybody wanted to have genuine animal skin leather handbag and the huge demand for animal skin bag is not only depleting the wildlife population, it is also leading to deforestation, while aggravating the phenomenon of global warming and climate change.

She explained further that “wildlife preservation is one of the forces that shape the ecosystem and biodiversity, as forest is set on fire in the process of killing wild animals.

“This can lead to deforestation and affect the climate in other ways, whereas conservation is imperative as it minimises the phenomenon of global warming and climate change.”

She lamented that the wildlife in Osse River Park was facing too many cruel killings inflated on them by hunters because most community people live in abject poverty and due to poverty, they rely on wildlife trade for subsistence and income, “and as a result,  the sensitization of hunters to desist from killing wildlife for the illegal trade in their meat and skin cannot be dealt with at national level. Community Environmental Sensitisation programme like this is required to inform and empower our people that wildlife trade is not only depleting the wildlife populations, but it is depleting the chances our communities have to make a living through eco-tourism.”

Ms Olayemi described elephants as one of the species in the African landscape being targeted by poachers, and in order to stop this, that is why the Cruelty Free Eco Fashion Week was founded. This week will bring about a global campaign to stop elephant poaching, as well as the use of animal skin for fashion.

She added that in line with the theme of the United Nations 2016 World Environment Day, which is: The Fight Against Illegal Trade in Wildlife, “we are using elephant-theme wood handbag as new impetus and artistic approach towards providing viable alternatives to the habit of using animal skin leather bag and ivory.”

Ms Bolajoko O. Taiwo, head of the team of Cruelty-Free Eco-Fashion Week highlighted the importance of elephant to nature. She said “elephants play crucial roles in their ecosystem. They are vital tool for seed dispersal. They are the architects of their landscape as they can pull down trees to create clearing and break up thorny bushes, which allows new plants to grow and naturally regenerate the forest and they also create trails that act as fire breakers.”

While unveiling the ‘SAY NO TO ELEPHANT POACHING’ handbag, Ms Bolajoko said that the organisation combined the elegance of wood with Nigerian traditional ornaments to handcraft bespoke elephant image handbags and is completely made in Nigeria with natural wood, while revealing that the bags will be given out as free gifts at Cruelty-Free Eco Fashion Week in United Nations member-states and some fashion galleries across the globe so as to discourage people from using animal skin leather handbags and ivory.