The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), with the support of National Park Service(NPS) has trained 50 Park Rangers of Okomu National Park, Edo State, and empowered 240 members of the neighbouring communities.
Mr Oladapo Soneye, Head Communications, NCF, said in a statement on Monday in Lagos that the training was done in two separate intensive capacity building workshops from the 1st – 5th March, 2021.
Soneye said that the core objective of the training was to improve the security and tourism infrastructure for the effective management of the Park.
“Other objectives include enhancement of the management and governance of priority Protected Areas (PA) by addressing existing limitations.
“Enforce the legal framework required to achieve effective biodiversity conservation in PAs.
“Support local communities’ initiatives aiming to enhance the livelihoods of local people whilst effectively contributing to PA management; and promote the ecotourism potential of the Park, Soneye said.
He said that the training was funded by the European Union and the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Group of States through the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme.
According to him, the training for Park Rangers was to aid Rangers’ knowledge in the area of data collection, surveillance operations, nature interpretation, conflict resolution and effective protection of species within the Park.
“NCF donated critical field and surveillance equipment to the Park to enhance its logistical and operational capacities on protection, biodiversity conservation and ecotourism development.
“Among the items donated were drone, walkie-talkie, binoculars, Global Positioning System (GPS), computers, new uniforms, patrol motorcycles among others,” Soneye said.
He said that the training would eventually increase PA capacity to protect species, improve infrastructural facilities and revenue generation.
He added that the training would also help development and improve livelihoods of the community members and secure their support for the Park and environment.
Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Director General of NCF, in his speech during the opening ceremony of the workshop, said that the capacity building and donations of items were done to enhance the protection of the Park and also to aid data collection of the wildlife species.
The DG, who was represented by Dr. Joseph Onoja, Director of Technical Programme, NCF, appreciated BIOPAMA
for the funding and pledged the commitment of NCF in ensuring that the equipment were for what they were intended for.
” We are also going to refurbish a vehicle for them to aid Rangers mobility and enhance the protection of the Park.” , Aminu-Kano said.
CP Tesleem Adeniyi Kareem, Conservator of Park, Okomu National Park, appreciated the donor (BIOPAMA) and facilitator (NCF) and said that the training and equipment would help greatly in updating, conserving and managing the biodiversity resources of the Park.
He said “Okomu National Park though it’s the smallest among the National Parks in Nigeria with 202.24 square kilometers but it’s the richest in terms of biodiversity.”
NAN reports that Okomu National Park is home to white-throated monkey, mona monkey, variety of duiker species, African forest elephants, hornbill, crocodile, African grey parrot; warthog; bats; temitarium among others.