Environmentalists, tourists and residents have reacted over the killing of chimpanzees in the Edumanom Forest Reserve, in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
Photos of hunters boasting of killing and selling chimpanzees to interested locals who eventually used them for pepper soup surfaced on facebook.
One Ebiowei recently shared photos of ”Chimpanzee meat pepper soup” which he washed down with yoghurt.
“Gunned down by a hunter in the forest today at Nembe, Bayelsa state. A good meal.” he captioned the post.
Reacting to the development, environmentalists raised the alarm and expressed worries that if the federal and state government fail to do more to protect these endangered species, they may be hunted and eaten into extinction.
Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, the Project Officer of Environmental Right Actions (ERA) Niger Delta Resource Centre in the state, Morris Alagoa, described the hunting of Chimpanzees in the Edumanom Forest Reserve as unfortunate, adding that it appears there is lack of seriousness and follow through actions on the part of the authorities, both at the state and federal level.
“I am aware that there are laws prohibiting the killing of such endangered species of animals in our environment. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of seriousness and follow through actions on the part of the authorities; state and federal. Besides, it is unimaginable that such is happening in a government recognised and reserved forest which is gazetted too,” he said.
“The civil society has not given much attention to this area. Sadly, the government in our clime did not support civil society. Must we continue depending on foreigners even for our own welfare? There is a need for the government to meet with traditional rulers in the state to work towards effectively protecting and preserving these animals for posterity.
“Forest Guards should be properly engaged and given adequate training on how to protect government reserved forests,” he added.
When contacted for comment, a renowned tourist and SSA to the Governor on Tourism, Mr. Priye Kiyaramo, said: “It is regrettable that the future of chimpanzees in Edonamon National Park in Bayelsa State still remains in peril. There are cases where infant chimpanzees are frequently taken alive and sold in cities as pets.”
Writer and campaigner ofor Good Governance, Social Justice and Equality, wrote;
“Did You Know That Nembe LGA Has A Forest Reserve? This forest reserve is called the “Edumanom Forest Reserve” The reserve is along the Nembe/Ogbia road in Bayelsa state,”
“This forest is home to the world’s biggest chimpanzee, sclater’s guenon amongst other important primate species. This reserve was the last known site for chimpanzees in the Niger Delta region. It also shelters the endemic Sclater’s guenon, the red list species olive colobus and the Niger Delta red colobus and the Sclater’s monkey.
“This area was proposed as a forest reserve by the then old Rivers State Govt but is now essentially being used and managed as community forest land.
“This forest is where hunters from Nembe annually kill Chimpanzee and other primate species. Most of these chimpanzees have been captured and butchered by local hunters in Nembe and they are at risk of going into extinction.
“But one good thing we failed to realize is that there is a lot to gain from “Ecotourism” if only our government can engage in conservation of these species for more research like Jane Goodall did with the mountain gorillas of Zaire.
“Kenya, as of today, is raking in millions of dollars through tourism by preserving their forest reserve. The country is ranked 7th largest economy in Africa and the 1st in East Africa because of ecotourism. Kenya has the largest ecotourism in Africa. Millions of people travelled to Kenya all over the world for tourism.
“Forest products are also capable of raking in cash to the economy of our state if we can stop illegal deforestation activities and create a huge economy through preservation of our forest. Look at our state, we can not even boast of a zoo that can attract visitors to our state. Why is it so difficult to conserve our rare wildlife and the ecosystem.