By: Grace USHORNYE.
The Cross River State government is set to benefit from the European Union’s (EU) regional support fund for wildlife conservation.
The intervention is aimed at mitigating biodiversity losses and boosting eco-tourism in the State.
Receiving the EU delegation in Calabar, Commissioner for International Development Cooperation, Dr. Inyang Asibong, acknowledged the EU and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) for the timely intervention, spotlighting on the economic importance of wildlife to the State through the tourism lens.
Asibong added that the Cross River State landscape is a global biodiversity hotspot and a centre of endemism for a variety of habitats, primates, birds, freshwater fish and other forms of amphibians and reptiles.
She noted that the Cross River landscape houses the largest ration of the remaining forest block in the country currently, with the Oban and Okwangwo divisions of its National Park being recognized as UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and prospected as a world heritage site.
Talking about the visit, the EU Team Lead, Leyland Ben Amor Mathieu, said the visit was to provide an update on the level of preparedness and to brief about the intervention, noting that agricultural encroachment into forests, poaching, logging etc are major threats to wildlife.
The EU Rep added that the Cross River gorillas, Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, tops the list of the species the intervention aims to protect and conserve.
Mathieu highlighted the operational mode of the EU in view of the commencement in 2023, following the ongoing regional and country level strategic planning, elaborating the Green Digital Economy, agriculture and human developments as the three areas the intervention aims to prioritize.