Illegal trading in wildlife parts is rampant in Nigeria, and smugglers have their eyes on elephant tusks and pangolin scales. There is a huge demand for these items in the international market. These fetch handsome returns that are illegal. It prompts unscrupulous elements to exploit the situation. They resort to poaching, killing the animals, retrieving the body parts, and selling them at a premium. In the latest seizure, the authorities of Nigeria seized more than 17 tonnes of these parts loaded in nearly 200 bags.

Elephants are massive animals and are attractions to tourists.

They travel from distant places to come and enjoy the elephant safari in Africa. However, poachers kill the animals to extract their tusks. Their carcasses, minus the tusks, lie in the wild and present a pathetic picture that highlights the greed of humans.

Sky News says officials made the seizure at Lekki. This is located near Lagos, the main port of Nigeria. It was a combined effort of Britain, the United States, and Germany, along with international organizations. The government wants to put an end to illegal wildlife trading. In December 2016, China shut down the ivory trade and dealt a death blow to elephant poaching.

Survival of the elephant in Africa is at stake

The World Wildlife Fund cautions that poaching for the illegal ivory trade is a major threat for the African elephant.

Their survival is at stake because poachers kill nearly 20,000 of them every year for their tusks. There used to be 12 million of them a century ago, and it has reduced to around 400,000. That indicates the magnitude of the problem. The authorities want to reverse the trend.

Sky News goes on to mention about the pangolin. It falls on the list of the critically endangered.

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The tusk of the elephant is valuable. For the pangolins, it is their scales. These are ingredients of traditional Chinese medicine, hence the demand. Colonel Hameed Ibrahim Ali is the comptroller-general of customs. He wants to bring the poachers to justice.

The elephant, like the pangolin, is dying a slow death

There are global concerns about the survival of species like the elephant and the pangolin.

One of these is deforestation which is manmade. It happens when man destroys the forest in the name of development. They encroach into the territory of the wildlife, drive them out of their natural habitat, and end up as endangered.

Sky News goes on to add that poachers use Nigeria to send African pangolins to Asia. Law enforcement officials and wildlife experts reveal this. They blame it on factors like porous borders, lax law enforcement, and corruption. It seems criminal networks in Nigeria have control over the majority of the illegal trade in Africa.

Poachers in Nigeria go after pangolin scales and elephant tusks

According to VOA, officials in Nigeria say smugglers carry out roaring business in pangolin scales and elephant tusks.

Last month, a herd of elephants relocated from a zoo in Britain to the wilds of Kenya. There is a demand for these products in Asian countries for use as jewelry or for traditional medicinal purposes. Nigeria and Congo are the major transit hub for wildlife trafficking in Africa. Earlier, these were in Kenya and Tanzania.

Joseph Attah is the public relations officer with Nigeria's Customs Service. At a briefing with reporters, he clarified: "The demand is not in Nigeria, the source is not in Nigeria and those involved, most of them are not even Nigerians." In his words, the smugglers used Nigeria as a transit route. The country is working with international partners to remove the stigma of being a transit hub.