Earlier this year, a bill was passed by Nigeria’s House of Representatives that offers stronger protections for endangered wildlife and tougher penalties for wildlife traffickers. This legislation, titled the “Endangered Species Conservation and Protection Bill,” makes Nigeria compliant with international conventions on endangered species and wildlife crime, and also boosts the investigative capacity of authorities to combat wildlife criminals. If adopted into law, arrests for the importing, exporting, or purchase of illegal wildlife products would result in sentences of up to 10 years in prison and fines equivalent to nearly $26,000 USD.
The bill has passed its first reading, and while it still has two more readings to go before it becomes law, it is a welcome sign of changing attitudes toward wildlife crime. Nigeria is the single largest exit hub for trafficking illegal wildlife products, like pangolin scales, from throughout Africa to Asian markets. If this bill goes on to become law, it could change all of that. Pangolins are the most illegally trafficked wild mammals on Earth, so this legislation will provide increased emphasis on protecting them and dismantling the criminal networks that target them.
The Pangolin Crisis Fund has been supporting the Environmental Investigation Agency and African Nature Investors, who actively work with the Nigerian government to tackle wildlife trafficking and improve legal measures against it. We will continue to support them and other projects in Nigeria that aid in the disruption of wildlife criminal activity and the safeguarding of pangolins and their habitats.