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.
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.
Journalists in Taraba State have been charged to passionately promote the rich tourism potentials of the State.
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Governor Darius Ishaku, Sylvanus Giwa gave this charge at a one day workshop organized by the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, tagged ‘The Role of Media in Promoting Tourism’, which was held at the NUT Hall, Jalingo.
According to him, the theme of the workshop is a great challenge to Journalists as such they should rise up to the task of projecting the Tourism potentials of the State.
He expressed disappointment over the scanty turnout of Journalists at the occasion, stressing that they themselves are expected to blow their trumpet as no other person will do it for them.
In her remarks, the Chairperson NAWOJ, Ms. Victoria Roland Andekin who explained that the workshop was preceded by an educational tour to the Gashaka Gumti National Park in Gashaka LGA of Taraba State, explained that, the trip has afforded them the opportunity to objectively project the tourism potentials of the State to the world.
She therefore urged journalists in the State to take advantage of this to sell Taraba State to the world as the next tourist destination for tourists and Investors.
Also in his address, the Chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Taraba State Chapter, Solomon Ajiduku described the day as a great one in the history of Journalists.
He stated that apart from oil, tourism is another viable sector not just in Taraba but the nation at large, assuring that Journalists will do all they can to showcase these potentials in order to attract tourists to the State, as he pleaded that the next Tourism Day be held in Gashaka.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Commissioner for Tourism, Hon. James Atosuma, pointed out that the tourism potentials in Taraba is next to none in any part of the World.
According to him, the role of the media can never be overemphasised, saying whatever plan the Government has for the sector, the media has to be involved in sensitising the public.
He however, lamented that the sector has been neglected for too long and as such will take a step by step approach to restore its glory, adding that very soon the tourism team will be embarking on a tour to the various tourist sites within the State, promising to partner with NAWOJ.
Also speaking at the event, the Commissioner for Information and Reorientation, Hon. Anthony Danburam who was represented by his Permanent Secretary, Emmanuel Apakun applauded the initiators of the programme and called on the gathering to explore other avenues to develop the State other than depending on oil alone, adding that the Ministry is willing to partner with any organisation involved in this venture.
Also speaking, the Assistant Manager Marketing of the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, Jalingo, Hajiya Nihaad Isa Umar who lamented that Tourism in the State has not been properly harnessed and the media has before now not measured up in its role of promoting tourist destinations in the State.
She stressed that the role of a media in the venture is monitoring, disseminating information and spokesmanship, emphasising that information about Tourist sites be thoroughly gathered and projected to the public to bring in more tourists and investors. “Discharge your duties effectively to promote Taraba” she charged.
There were goodwill messages from the Secretary TSBS Jalingo, WOWICAN, FOMWAN, NLC Women Wing, PDP Women Leader and others.
Paper presentations were delivered on ‘The Role of Media in Tourism Development’, by Mr Sukuji Bakoji, Editor of the Nigeria Sunrise Newspapers and ‘Tourism as a means of Development’, by the Conservator of Park, Gashaka Gumti National Park, Mr. Oladipo O. C.