The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Bayelsa State Governor on Tourism, Dr. Piriye Kiyaramo has expressed worry over the incessant killings of gorillas/chimpanzees in the Edumenum National Park in Ogbia/Nembe local government areas, lamenting that such illegal poaching will cause extinction of the critically endangered species as well as negatively impact on wildlife tourism activities.
Dr. Kiyaramo stated this when the paramount ruler of Ogbema (Fikoruama), an adjacent community to the Edumenum National Park in Nembe local government area, HRH Douglas Onunugu, visited him in his office in Yenagoa on Wednesday to brief him about the ongoing illegal poaching of the greatly threatened gorillas/chimpanzees and other wildlife in the park.
He expressed concern that the remaining gorillas/chimpanzees in Edumenum National Park are presently at great risk of extinction as there will not be enough reproducing mates to replenish the rapidly decreasing population of the rare and critically endangered species, saying that the incessant killings of endangered wildlife by local the hunters could lead to loss of the species which will have a chain reaction that could result to the eventual collapse of the entire ecosystem.
“Wildlife poaching has grave consequences for targeted species and their habitats. Besides, it has clear environmental implications, which illustrate how our environment is connected to our well-being and economy. These illegal activity will negatively affect the ecosystem, our health and even the prosperity of local communities.
“Once species becomes extinct, especially if it is a keystone species within the ecosystem, the balance of the ecosystem is thrown off. The illegal hunting and harvesting of endangered wildlife remains the second biggest direct threat to species after habitat destruction. It can have a devastating effect on the individual species and on the entire ecosystems as well as the local communities.
“With such incessant killings of gorillas and chimpanzees in the national park, the area will no longer become attractive to potential tourists. It means that potential visitors and tourists could boycott the park. Such boycott could have a detrimental effect on the local economy as restaurants, hotels, rentals, and other attractions would suffer great losses in revenue.
“And if Bayelsa were to lose its iconic species like the critically endangered gorillas/chimpanzees in Edumenum National Park, it would in turn create a huge financial impact on the local economy, most likely resulting in job losses particularly in the tourism industry”, Dr. Kiyaramo reiterated.
Earlier, the visiting paramount ruler of Ogbema, Fikoru-ama, adjacent community to the Edumenum National Park, HRH Douglas Onunugu, had complained bitterly about the incessant killings of endangered wildlife, especially gorillas/chimpanzees in the park, calling for urgent intervention from relevant authorities to stop the illegal hunting of gorillas/chimpanzees.
HRH Onunugu, who also doubles as chairman of a forty-eight member wildlife volunteer group in the area appealed to the state government to erect signposts, which will identify the area as a national park, build a security post for the wildlife volunteers and provide other equipment to enable them to secure the park from the ongoing nefarious illegal hunting activities.