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wildlife conservation and game management laws









Wildlife serves an important role in maintaining the balance of various ecosystems. The universe is replete with indices of immeasurable contributions that wildlife species have made to human development in virtually all countries of the world. Human beings have profitably utilized several kinds of animal species for traction, power generation, clothing, research, medicine, sports, tourism and entertainment. In spite of these innumerable pleasure mankind derive from wildlife resources, man´s inhumanity to animal species remain unceasing and unabated. Thus, these human activities such as bush burning, damming rivers, draining swamps, environmental pollution, hunting and poaching are threatening their existence.

Invariably, many more are faced with extinction and classified as threatened species, those that are fairly abundant but face serious threats to their survival

While many are endangered species as seriously threatened thereby requiring human protection for survival. Realizing the harmful effects of these developments to its environment, Nigeria has put in place legal and institutional frameworks to protect both fauna and flora species from genetic extinction through enactment of municipal laws on the

  • _____________________

1SeeSarojini T.Ramalingam: .Ecological Management in Modern Biology, Africana First Publishers Limited, Onitsha, Nigeria, 2008 )pp160

  • [2] Examples are the African elephants that are hunted intensely for its ivory tusks, leopards for their skins thereby reducing their numbers.
  • [3] Examples are mountain gorilla and the white rhinoceros.
environment, wild animals, sea fisheries, forestry, pollution, national parks and environmental impact assessment agencies. At the international level relevant treaties and conventions on environmental conservation, protection of endangered species have been adopted and implemented by the Nigerian government Legal regime of environmental conservation and management will yield to stabilizing hydrological systems, protecting soil, ensuring climate stability, protecting renewable and genetic resources, preserving breeding stocks, population reservoirs and biological diversity, maintaining the natural balance of the environment, promoting tourism, and recreation, creating employment opportunities and providing facilities for research, technology and education.
Available literature shows that today’s human activities is an empirical evidence of human ruining what nature has bestowed by nature to its care for sustainability. In 2001, the Nigerian National Parks generated about three million dollar through ecotourism and entertainment. While birds positively affect human lives in many ways than are known to many people, for example, twenty one of the bird species found in Nigeria are facing serious threat of extinction or loss of habitat. The situation is worrisome as two of these species-Anambra Waxbill and the Ibadan Malimbe exist only in Nigeria and no where in the world. Also, about 900 species of birds exist in Nigeria, which forms almost forty percent of about 2200 different species of birds that exist in Africa,
thereby placing Nigeria among the top ten countries in bird species diversity in Afro-tropical region. Research has also shown that birds are good indicators of all forms of biodiversity and the health of environment. Nigerian farmers in the Northern part of Nigeria rely on the migratory movement of the abdim´s stork, called ´´rain bird´ as a natural calendar to set in motion land cultivation and planting season. This paper sets out to examine the existing laws for the conservation of wildlife resources and the regulation of game management with a view to evaluating the socio-economic value of these natural resources to human environment in Nigeria vis-à-vis international standards set by various applicable conventions. It also determines the impact of various human activities such as land use, deforestation, biodiversity, hunting expeditions on the animal species, habitat and the resultant effect on the climate change and environmental depletion within and outside the reserves.
The paper concludes that contributory factors like population, scarcity of energy, poverty, pollution, overgrazing, bush burning, poaching etc adversely militate against sustenance of wildlife and game management in Nigeria. The paper therefore suggests collective responsibility on the part of Government and the people of Nigeria to conserve the remaining species of wildlife from total extinction by the year 2050 and thereby averts its diminutive catastrophic on the environment.
legal framework
Legal Framework

In the Conservation of wildlife, their habitants, parks, reserves and sanctuaries are protected by Laws. Thus, most human activities such as grazing of minimizing are restricted of prohibited. The enabling Laws only allow recreational activities such as nature walks and bird watching. Towards compliance with these regulations, institutional bodies were set up to manage parks and reserves. In Nigeria, we have the Borgu and Yankari game Reserves, which serve as the habitants for many threatened and endangered animals to live, breed and build up their numbers[1].

In many instances, some highly endangered species are brought up in Zoos and than passed on to these protected areas where they are left undisturbed by adventurists. In rare instances, The Law provides that when the populations Africa with its rich wildlife heritage has many national Parks, Sanctuaries and game reserves, especially in the savanna regions. For example, the Ngorongoro conservation area in Tanzania is the of Africa’s most spectacular reserves.


  • [1] Africa with its rich wildlife heritage has many national Parks, Sanctuaries and game reserves, especially in the savanna regions. For example, the Ngorongoro conservation area in Tanzania is the of Africa’s most spectacular reserves.
of certain species become too large in these areas, the institutional authorities overseeing the management of this conserved wildlife reduce their numbers by controlled hunting. In these Parks, poaching is a serious problem as it has always been a major challenge for Gamekeepers and rangers to effectively monitor poachers who illegally kill wildlife. However, Nigerian Governments have in recent times provided modern equipment for the purpose of ensuring that poaching is considerably. Similarly, rare and endangered plants are grown and maintained in botanical gardens. The seeds of such plants are kept in seed banks for future planning. Wildlife conservation organizations for effective operation of wildlife conservation policy, there are national and international organization.
In Nigeria, the Nigerian conservation foundation and the Nigerian Game Reserve Authorities are saddled with the responsibilities of wildlife conservation projects. At the world level is the worldwide organization that raises money for conservation projects in all parts of the world.

Its main responsibility is to concentrate on conserving endangered species in their habitats. Closely related is the international legal framework a contained[1]in the convention on International Trade in endangered species or CITES, Which protects many endangered or threatened Animals and Plants.


  • [1] The world wildlife fund project is assisting to protect China’s giant Panda, which is rare with only about 1000 living in the Szechuan and Shan-si mountains.
This convention recommends to various Governments to Ban or Restrict Trade in such Species and their products like Crocodile Skins and Rhinoceros Horns.
conservation of fishing grounds
Conservation of Fishing Grounds
  • Increased Fishing activities worldwide recorded that fishes are being caught at a faster rate than can be naturally replaced thereby resulting in over Fishing. Invariably many Fish species are being threatened with extinction, coupled with the fact that fishing expeditions usually attract fascination and realizing that the commercial Fishing contributes significantly to the world food supply with the aid of improved Fishing instruments. The Nigerian Governments have put in place Laws and regulations at Federal and State levels to curb over Fishing, however, enforcing these Laws in riverine areas or Water side areas where many inhabitants depend on Fishing as their major source of livelihood is problematic and difficult.
The Nigerian Governments through regulatory agencies have evolved methods to conserve fishing grounds and protect endangered fish species such as: banning the use of drift nets which indiscriminately traps all forms of the life;
  • Using nets with a certain west size so that young fishes are not caught;
  • Regulating the size of ships allowed into fishing grounds,
  • Hunting the period of fishing in the groundsBanning the harvesting of endangered species; and
  • Raising fishes in hatcheries and releasing them into fishing grounds where the fish population are decreasing.
At the International level, the United Nations has through appropriate Channels promoted conservation of fishes in international waters. For example, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was set up to prevent the extinction of Whales. The body restricts Whaling by using a quota system in which each member country is allowed to catch a certain number of whales. In 1985, the IWC declared a complete ban on whaling but, enforcing these measures is difficult. Nature walks, bird watching, camping and picnics for tourists and fun seekers.
Thus, conserving nature enriches and benefits individual life towards improving on emotional and mental health. It also serves as a big source of revenue. Also, well managed natural resources provide food and raw materials and energy for industries.

Conservation plays great scientific value, as it allows opportunity to study living organizations in their habitants.[1]


6The National Parks and game reserves in Nigeria attract tourists form all parts of the world.



  • Animals are generally classified into “Domitae natural or mansuctae naturae” (animals ferae naturae (of a wild nature e.g. monkey). Domestication commutes to tame, to reclaim (an animal or plant) from a wild state. The distinction is usually made between domestication and terming, as the former connotes control of reproductive phase of the life cycle and selection of parents while the later does not. The position of Law regulating wild animals in Nigeria is not different from the English position. The wild animals are animals not ordinarily domesticated.
For example ,section of the wild animals preservation act,[1] defines animals to mean all vertebrates and invertebrates (including non-edible fish), their nests, eggs, egg shells, skin and plumage. Moreover, section 23 of the Animal diseases (control) Act[2] defines it to mean horse, mule, drakes, camel, cattle, cow, bull, bullock, heifer and cap, buffalo, sheep, goat swine, dog, cat, laboratory animal, wild animal etc.

An aspect of legal framework that is of high interest is the concept of property and ownership of animals6. The key issue is on the problem of ownership of wild animals. If wildlife were recognized as common property


  • [1] See section 87 of the Animal Health Act, 1981 which provides that wild animals are animals not
  • [1] Laws of Nigeria cap 232, 1958
  • 6. Se James A. Tober, Who Owns the wildlife, (Reenwood press, 1981)
could common owners then pursue animals wherever they sought refuge even on private property? To what extent can the state as trustee for common owners exercise over the pursuit? Thus, if animals are treated as mere chattels how much control can private individuals have over such species classified as wild animals.

Although, under a qualified property in living wild animals, such animals are classified as the property if any person who captures, takes, tames, or reclaims than until these animals escape or regain their natural beauty. The fact remains that states assume ownership of wildlife.

Thus, in some certain instances, wild creatures conserved cannot be taken without permission. Non-compliance with this regulation constitutes an offence. In this regard, section 4 of Wild Animals Preservation Laws prohibits the killing, hunting and capturing of animals mentioned in the first and second schedules and any female antelope without license.

Under the Roman and English laws, wild animals are nullius bonis (the property of no one) and regarded as common property. The law recognizes certain forms of private rights over animals that have been captured, confined or granted.

The question of ownership of wildlife in hyena is vested in both federal and state governments because wildlife exists in both territories.

Section 20 of the National Park Service Act states “The ownership of every wild animal and wild plant existing in its natural habitat in, National park and any thing whatsoever, whether of biological geomorphologic or historical origin or otherwise, existing or found in a National park is hereby vested in the Federal Government and subject to the control and management by the Federal Government for the benefit of Nigeria and mankind generally”.

Similarly other relevant legislation are the Endangered Species (International Trade and Traffic) Act and the Animal Diseases (Control) Act enacted in respect of matters which are within the exclusive legislative list.

Therefore, wildlife conservation and game management implies the protection, improvement and use of natural resources in a way that ensures the highest social and economic benefits to mankind. Although, this overall objective of conservation often conflicts with traditional human activities of the African descent. In the same vein, good game management plays a positive role on the nation’s renewable energy and resources. It also serves as a viable source of materials for the production of biogas as a form of venerable energy with little negative on the environment as fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas e.t.c. Furthermore, with proper planning like the entrenchment of good game management, will sustain the present yields or maintain the intrinsic quality of frosts and its resources.
In spite of the laudable benefit of wildlife conservation and game management for the environment, some identified factors militate against their effectiveness in Nigeria such as energy supply, especially lack of adequate and regular source of electricity of ten compel citizens in particular those in rural communities to fell trees as firewood for cooking and other domestic use hereby accelerating soil erosion and the loss wildlife.

The increasing trend and pattern of climate change has serious apoedyptic implication on the environment including man, plant and animals. Also, the increasing rate of poverty is a major challenge of wildlife conservation and management in Nigeria. In many villages, women make their living on felling of trees for firewood,

hunting, indiscriminate tilling of landscape and other depleting activities with the attendant results on environmental degradation.

Environment predation arising from spread of waste and the destruction of nature result in habitat loss, fragmentation of forests, thorn Serb, cone reefs, conversion of rivers inimical effects on the sustenance of wild resources that often lead to extraction of many species of plants and animals. The increasing pressure of population growth and economic development often necessitate modification of land scrape by clearing, draining,

mining and other developmental projects like building of cemeteries, irrigation schemes, construction of roads, location and localization of industries. All these activities bring about changes in the patterns of wildlife as natural habitat of wildlife are being gradually eroded. In Nigeria, large proportion of the rainforest reserves in places like onigambari,Olokemeji in Oyo state, south west of Nigeria and Sakomba in Edo State, south-south of Nigeria have been cleared for various land use such as private estates and botanical gardens. Overgrazing in sanctuaries or reserves by the Large numbers of cattle’s and other domestic livestock especially in the Northern states of Nigeria coupled with the migratory trends to the southern states of Nigeria for pasturing by the Nomadic cattle rearers adversely deplete grassland and
other plants species. The possibility of transferring diseases from these cattle’s to wild animals that lack immunity to the morbidities of domesticated animals/ livestock invariably destroy one of the nation’s wildlife creatures.


According to Miller (1979), of the 500 million species of plants and animals on earth, only abut 2 millon are in Nigeria Also in Nigeria animal species such as white elephant, the buffalo are nearing extinction due to the catastrophic effect of deforestation and desertification

Another contributory factor to habitat and wild life is incessant bush burning by hunters, game dealers and peasant farmers. In Nigeria, recurrent fire incidents result in destruction of plant species, death of animals and escape of some animals into nearby communities. The sudden relocation of the wildlife community poses threats to life and property, as the inhabitants wantonly kill these strayed or migrated animals on the basis of self-defense. There are instances of death of some villagers nearby Borgu Game Reserve, now Kanji Lake National park in 1963 and 1974. Similarly, in 1981, there was a report of a leopard that escaped from the Yankari Game Reserve into one of the villages, of Gwana district.
Poaching is another serious impediment to the conservation of wildlife and game management in the country through the use of camel and wasteful methods by poachers on these animals. Closely related to these factors are the numerous crude acts of professional and freelance hunters whose source of livelihood depends on the tracking down of these game species. The high demand for venison (bush meat) by many citizens further increases number of hawkers of game operators of roadside and motor park restaurants resulting in reckless and indiscriminate slaughter of game species with impunity.
legal and regulatory frameworks for wildlife conservation
Legal and Regulatory frameworks for wildlife conservation
  • The legal and regulatory frameworks in wildlife conservation in Nigeria dated back to the colonial era. Various legislation governs conservation of biodiversity in the country. For example, the forestry Act and Wild Animals Act were patterned after the 1933 London Convention for Protection of African Fauna. This has further been updated by the Conservation of Biological Diversity and International Law, 1990 UNEP, Nairobi. The situation remained the same at independence. The applicable laws on wildlife and game management remained largely universe and only being implemented in the same expropriatory and exploitative manner .
These laws alienated the rural inhabitant’s role in exploration of forests and hunting expeditions.

The existing Nigerian conservation laws broadly cover many aspects of wildlife and game management conservation; such as forestry, national parks, wild animal and endangered species preservation, fisheries laws, agricultural seeds, crop varieties and livestock breads, agriculture laws, water Resources laws etc. The Regulatory agencies such as the federal Environmental Protection Commission, the environmental impact assessment Commission , the urban and regional planning agency and many state environmental protection agencies have been established to strengthen

the institutional regulation of the environment. Nigeria is a signatory to a number of international conventions relevant to biodiversity conservation. Examples are convention on conservation o f biological diversity, the law of the sea convention, the African convention on the conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the convention for co-operation in the protection and development of the Marine and coastal environment of the west and central African Region.
advantages of conservation
Advantages of Conservation

Conservation of natural resources improves the quality of human life by enabling mankind to live in a clean and healthy environment, while at the same time, within reasonable limits, energy and material needs of the society are met.

Conservation preserves the beauty of nature with the creation of severe scenery such as water falls, lakes and the mountains as well as fascinating assemblage of varieties of wild animals. The enabling environment of national parks and game reserves in the country provides outdoor recreational activities like nature walks, bird watching camping and picnics for tourists and fun seekers .

Thus, conserving nature enriches and benefits individual life towards improving on emotional and mental health. It also serves as a big source of revenue. Similarly, well managed natural resources provide food and raw material and energy for the inhabitants. Conservation plays great scientific value, as it allows study living organism in their habitats. The natural parks and game resources in Nigeria attract tourists from all parts of the world.
problems of biodiversity and conservation laws
Problems of Biodiversity and Conservation Laws

Nigeria’s environment is threatened through various activities of the citizens in spite of considerable national and international laws regulating biodiversity conservation. A number of studies and surveys have been carried out on the Nigerian environment and natural resources conservation. Similarly, a considerable number of workshops and seminar have been organized by stakeholders on the implementation of the policy on biodiversity convention in Nigeria. Thus, within the framework of legal instruments considerably some provisions have been put in place in the conservation of wildlife and game management.

Nevertheless the existing variety legislation on biodiversity need coordination for effective application while lack of or poor enforcement mechanism by institutional bodies and government inhibit appropriate polices on the conservation.

Africa is endowed with variety of plants and animal species, which ought to serve as a veritable source of wealth, if they are well conserved and preserved for tourism purposes.

Time has come for African nations like Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia and South African endowed with abundant and varied fauna to realize and appreciate the value and contribution of wild creatures to biodiversity and environmental living conditions of mankind.

Tourism is gradually developing in Nigeria. Going by the National park service Act No. 46 of 1999, Nigeria now has 8 National Parks created out of more than 32 reserves in the country, both forest and game. More places like Lekki Peninsula established in 1987 and being gazette into forest and game reserves, while the existing ones are being upgraded to national parks.

The abundant tourism potentials abound nation wide with the natural feature such as lowering mountains beaches, waterfalls, museums, game reserves and National Parks.

The participation of Nigeria in the 31st edition of international tourism exchange (ITE) Berlin, 1997, has further increased international patronage by tourists to Nigeria, There has been consistent improvement in foreign exchange earnings from 1985 to 1996, of about 20, 000 tourists generating N 500 million and by 2001, a total sum of N30.276 million was generated from tourism by the eight national parks .