Solar-powered bore hole and street light provided by UNDP|ECN Sustainable Energy for all in Gashala Manud Village

Delta community seeks support for crocodile conservation

Elders of the Emu Kingdom in Delta State have solicited for more support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for the conservation of their environment has a conservatory for the endangered West African dwarf crocodile.

Located in Agbraka, Delta State, the riverine community has a huge population of the West African dwarf crocodiles which is revered by the people of Emu as their mother. The crocodiles are sacred and forbidden animals within Emu where they do not kill or eat the giant reptile. But poaching and environmental degradation have led to a drastic fall in its population.

High Chief of Emu Kingdom, Johnson Ekpechiulu, explained that the crocodiles provided a form of defense for the Emu community during inter-tribal wars in the pre-colonial era. Myth has it that the crocodiles line across roads, preventing invaders from launching an onslaught against the Emu people.

The crocodiles also formed bridges across major rivers for residents to escape attackers.

The community has appealed to the conservation initiative by UNDP through the Niger Delta Biodiversity Conservation Project (NDBP) for the protection of the breed from extinction.

As poachers are increasingly hunting the few crocodiles that are left, a conservatory law that will make it an offense to kill a crocodile in Emu would help in reducing the trend.

The Royal Father pleaded to the project coordinator of the NDBP to “make Emu a designated conservatory to get laws passed to punish anyone that harms such endangered animals.”

The Public Relations Officer of Emu Kingdom Council of Chiefs, Chief Anthony Enyagbegu, also noted that the need for the conservation of the sacred crocodiles in Emu falls under the purview of UNDP Niger Delta Biodiversity Conservation Project.

“We ask that you help us engage with government to legally promulgate Emu as a crocodile conservatory, which will make us a major tourism hub in the Niger delta,” he said.

Matthew Dore of the NDBP noted that the disappearing wildlife and biodiversity of the Niger Delta, which use to have elephants, buffalos, and hippopotamus roaming all over the creeks is lamentable.

On his part, he promised to create more awareness with the Delta State Assembly to pass laws that will support the conservation of Emu’s biodiversity.

In the past, UNDP organized series of colloquia for residents of the community where participants made commitments not to kill the crocodiles. The organization is also providing funds to erect signboards to create awareness on the need to conserve crocodiles and the community as an entity for conservation.

Augustina is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Lagos Nigeria. In the last seven years, she has reported on maritime, politics, environment, climate change, community, and sustainable development. She is currently studying Science [journalism] at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Listen to some of her rural reports: https://audioboom.com/Teenaija-News