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Taraba Government Set to Conserve Endangered Hippos for Tourism

Faced with the threat of losing a rare pool of hippopotamuses at the Nwonyo lake in Ibi LGA and Gashaka Gumti Park, the Taraba State government is planning to protect and conserve the animal species against extinction and for tourism purposes.

This was agreed upon during the presentation of findings and recommendations of the threats of hippopotamuses in Ibi LGA of Taraba State, held in Jalingo by the Taraba State Ministry of Culture and Tourism in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

A wildlife specialist from Zimbabwe, Michael La-Grange, had during the occasion warned that Taraba State was faced with ‘imminent extinction’ of hippos and therefore encouraged the government to protect the animal species.

La-Grange while delivering a power-point lecture to the participants, advised that a boundary needed to be established round the lake where the animals live. Other suggestions he gave were that: the government should consider restocking the Gashaka Gumti Park, address the ignorance of community members and send extension officers to the communities to educate the people on how hippos behave.

FAO Representative in Nigeria, Suffiyan Koroma

FAO Representative in Nigeria, Suffiyan Koroma

The wildlife specialist also showed the audience the dwelling places of the animals using Google maps as well as the behaviour, population and threat the animals faced as a result of poaching and human activities.

On his opening remarks, the Taraba State Commissioner for Tourism and Culture, Atosuma Gani, disclosed that due to the threat of hippos to humans at the Nwonyo lake, the government had approached the FAO to investigate and give their findings on how to conserve the hippos in order to attract tourists to the State.

Also speaking, FAO representative in Nigeria, Suffiyan Koroma, stated that FAO has a vision to help build food security in Nigeria. He added that for more that two weeks, a team from FAO was working to find out the threat posed to farming communities and to preserve the animals for tourism.

While delivering his speech, the Taraba State governor, Darius Dickson Ishaku, stated that the journey had just began to boost tourism in the State towards creating employment and empowering the people.

According to him 15,000 people were empowered in 2017 to farm rice and that government was working to persuade the Chinese people to establish a Madrid wood industry in the State as well as discourage the indescrimate felling of the trees.

He promised that the government would attempt to domesticate the hippos to allow tourists visit them. On the alternative, he said the animals can be followed to where they are and protect them or the young ones be brought to Nwonyo lake to be raised. He added that such a move can be beneficial to the fishes in the lake since the hippos’ faeces are food to them.

Ishaku,then disclosed that he would set up a committee in that respect and would prefer that the hippos be domesticated in Nwonyo lake.