FG moves to protect the environment against wildlife and forest crimes

Abuja, 1 December 2021: Over the past decade Nigeria has emerged as both a source as well as the key transit country for the shipment of protected species and products. UNODC’s World Wildlife Crime Report (WWCR) 2020, found that, in 2019 alone, at least 51 tons of pangolin scales seized globally originated from Nigerian ports, compared to only 2 tons in 2015. More than half of all seizures of pangolin scales worldwide could be traced back to Nigeria in 2019. Data further suggested an increasing role of Nigeria in the illicit ivory trade with almost a quarter of all ivory seized worldwide having been shipped through Nigerian ports.

This year, from January to date, there have been three major shipments of wildlife and forest products seized by the Nigeria Customs Service. Moreover, prior to the 2018 suspension of the trade in Rosewood from Nigeria imposed under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, Nigeria was the primary source country in the region with more than 750.000 cubic meters of Rosewood (Pterocarpus Erinaceus, locally known as kosso) exported in 2017. The seizures by Customs as well as recent media reports suggest that this trade continues, albeit illegally.

These developments have made it critically important to adopt a more cohesive, coordinated and robust approach to combat wildlife and forest crime in Nigeria. With COP26 recently concluded in Glasgow, drawing once again our attention to the urgent need to protect our planet, it is an opportune time for us to also reflect on crimes that affect the environment and devising an integrated approach to tackling them.

It is within this context that the Government of Nigeria under the leadership of the Ministry of Environment and with the support of the Government of Germany and UNODC has embarked on the development of the first ever National Strategy on Wildlife and Forest Crime 2022-2026. The five-year Strategy articulates, Nigeria’s vision in relation to the illegal wildlife trade – A Nigeria Free of Wildlife Crime.


After more than a year of assessments and stakeholder consultation, on 30 November all relevant ministries, departments, and agencies of Government as well as various civil society organizations gathered in Abuja for a high-level validation workshop. The event was chaired by the Honourable Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, Esq and was attended by the Director General of the Forestry Research Institute if Nigeria (FRIN), the UNODC Country Representative, Mr Oliver Stolpe, and other relevant stakeholders including the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), the Nigeria Customs Service, National Park Service, INTERPOL Central Bureau Nigeria, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Processed Wood Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (PROWPMAN), Tropical Wood Exporters Association of Nigeria (TWEAN), the Pangolin Conservation Guild of Nigeria, etc.


The validation of the Strategy follows series of consultations and workshops with the Technical Working Group (TWG) consisting of key stakeholder agencies and broader consultations and engagements with other stakeholders nationally and internationally. The strategy has clearly defined seven objectives designed to effectively address transnational and domestic wildlife crime. They include:

  1. Enhance Institutional Capabilities – will ensure all frontline institutions have the capacity to understand, detect and deter wildlife crime
  2. Strengthen the Legal Framework – enable harmonised and strengthened legal framework to deter wildlife crime and enable sustainable trade
  3. Increase collaboration – will ensure more effective coordination nationally and internationally to combat wildlife crime
  4. Honour Commitments – will seek to ensure compliance with national and international commitments to regulate legal trade and combat wildlife crime
  5. Remove Crime Enablers – aimed at preventing corruption and financial crime which enable wildlife crime thrive
  6. Raise Awareness of Wildlife Crime – generate social and political will by raising awareness to the value of nature and the threat posed by wildlife crime
  7. Alternative Livelihoods – empower local communities through developing wildlife crime prevention initiatives

The Honourable Minister of State for Environment, Sharon O. Ikeazor, Esq, commended the collaborative support of international organisations and diplomatic missions such as UNODC, the Government of Germany and United of America, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), and others. The Honourable Minister noted that the national strategy is a complete tool needed to drive and achieve sustainable management of the environment and biodiversity conservation.

The UNODC Country Representative urged stakeholders to ensure the active implementation of the strategy and provide detailed input into the strategy, ensuring that this first national wildlife strategy is as effective as possible and has important national ownership.

The strategy is expected to be launched in March 2022 in Abuja.

The strategy has been developed within the context of the Project “Strengthening Nigeria’s Response to the Trafficking of Wildlife and Forestry Products” which is funded by the Government of Germany and implemented by UNODC in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Nigeria Customs Service, the National Environmental Standards and Regulatory Framework Agency (NESREA), as well as other state and non-state actors. The Project compliments the support of the European Union to the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) to undertake a comprehensive assessment of Nigeria’s preventive and criminal justice response to wildlife and forest crime, using the ICCWC Analytical Toolkit and ICCWC Indicator Framework as well as Corruption Risk Assessments of the wildlife and forest sectors in Nigeria.