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Environment Protection

Cross River Wildlife Sanctuary Under Siege from armed Criminal Miners and Loggers

Conservationists and environmentalists are expressing growing concerns about the safety of tourists and eco guards at the renowned Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary and Drill Ranch in the Buanchor community of Cross River State, Boki local government area. The worries stem from reported incidents involving illegal miners, loggers, and unauthorized armed individuals encroaching upon these protected habitats, which are home to rare and endangered animal species.

Despite being managed by the state government and attracting international tourists, researchers, and students, the sanctuary faces persistent threats from various illegal activities.

During a recent town hall meeting held in Buanchor, stakeholders including representatives from the Pandrillus Foundation, former Chairman of the Cross River Forestry Commission, and the Executive Director of PADIC-Africa stated the need for stronger collaboration between forest communities and the government to safeguard reserved forests.

They highlighted ongoing challenges such as encroachment by farmers, hunters, and loggers, which are hampering efforts to promote eco-tourism in the area and across the state. Concerns were raised about incidents where armed individuals trespassed into protected areas, endangering the lives of visitors.

Dr. Odigha, a prominent figure in environmental conservation, cautioned that illegal activities within the sanctuary could deter both international and local tourists, potentially degrading its status as a protected area. He urged the community to take responsibility for safeguarding the natural beauty of the Afi Mountain Sanctuary, emphasizing its significance as a precious ecological asset. Leaders of the Buanchor community echoed these sentiments, expressing alarm over ongoing logging activities and committing to collaborating with NGOs to protect the habitats and promote sustainable tourism initiatives.

In response to the challenges outlined, Mr. Clement Omina, Director of Eco-Tourism and Art Development at the Cross River State Ministry of Art, Tourism, and Culture, emphasized the importance of community involvement in tourism projects.

IMAGE: Guardian

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