Nigeria: Growing lawlessness endangers forest communities

Villagers, environmentalists and eco-guards discuss dangers of Afi Mountain Sanctuary, Nigeria Villagers, environmentalists and Eco-Guards discuss dangers of Afi Mountain Sanctuary (© PADIC Africa)

Mar 19, 2024

Logging, illegal mining, poaching and armed groups are making the forests of eastern Nigeria unsafe. Communities in the Afi Mountain protected area are threatened, as are Eco-Guards and environmental activists. They have now joined forces to improve the situation.

Nigerian environmentalists warn that illegal loggers are invading the forests of Cross River State with increasing ruthlessness. The region around Afi Mountain, a refuge for endangered gorillas, is particularly affected. Illegal mining, poaching and farming are also a problem. Armed men roam the forests.

In response, activist Martins Egot of our partner organization PADIC Africa organized a town-hall meeting of local communities with authorities, environmental protection organizations and Eco-Guards to discuss ways to improve the situation. The Pandrillus Foundation and environmentalist Odigha Odigha, with whom we have been working since 2016, were also involved.

The meeting is part of a PADIC Africa project that we support financially, which includes the work of the Eco-Guards and the creation of sources of income. Read more about our partner here.

Odigha Odigha warned that the overall condition of the area is deteriorating and advised the community to protect the beautiful landscape of the Afi Mountain Sanctuary, describing it as “God’s own home”.

Buanchor community members are demanding that the government do more to combat illegal logging. This demand is in line with the petition “Nigeria: save Cross River State's unique forests” that we launched together with Nigerian forest conservationists. Please sign it if you haven’t already.

Others are concerned about the future of ecotourism, which has great potential – and could be destroyed by insecurity. In December, for example, armed men appeared at the Drill Ranch, where visitors can observe drills and other primates in a protected rainforest area.

Clement Omina, Director, Eco-Tourism and Art Development of the Cross River State Ministry of Arts, Tourism and Culture said, “We cannot succeed except those communities that are directly involved are carried along or they have a key role to play. If the communities are left aside, whatever we are doing here will not yield anything.”

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