Curbing pandemics: Experts highlight natural solution

By Sikiru Balogun, Abuja

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The Technical Director, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Dr. Joseph Onoja has joined other world leaders in conservation to promote biodiversity at the webinar conference.

The conference was organised by the Department of Zoology, University of Lagos in commemoration of the International Day of Biodiversity (IDB) 2020 with the theme “Our Solutions are in Nature.”

In his lecture titled “The Role of Wildlife to a Pandemic: Potentials and Challenges”, Dr. Onaja said that wildlife (plants and animals), an integral part of the existence of humans and nature has continued to create a balance for the enjoyment and overall well-being of humans.

“However, important as it is, humans in their ‘wisdom’ have interrupted and disrupted that balance. The disruption has come with its attendant consequences in areas such as outbreak of pandemic diseases,  floods, heat wave, sea surge etc,” he states.

Dr. Onaja then proposed a four cardinal nature-based solutions to tackle some of these challenges.

Among these solutions are sanitation, flood prevention, regulation as well as pest management.

He said; “Wildlife have been placed to prevent such pandemics in the first place, but since we have found ourselves in this situation, wildlife will also be the solution.”

Other participants include; Dr. Kevin Njabo, Department of Environmental Health Science, University of California, USA; Dr Anil Kumar, CEO, Foundation for Nature Conservation, India; Professor J. K. Saliu, HOD, Department of Zoology, University of Lagos among others.

In a related development, the Nigerian Youth Biodiversity Network organised an online event to add voice to the discussions.

Dr. Joseph Onoja in his presentation “Challenges and Opportunities of Covid-19 on Biodiversity Conservation in Nigeria” observed some of the challenges of the virus on biodiversity conservation as  hostility towards wildlife; inability to carry out field conservation work or patrols and inadequate funding for conservation work.”

He, however concluded that though pandemic has caused a set back to wildlife conservation, it has presented a good opportunity for promotion of biodiversity conservation.