By Chris Udochukwu
Abuja (Precise Post) – Federal lawmaker representing Sabon Gari Federal Constituency of Kaduna State, Hon Garba Muhammad Datti has tasked law and policy makers to drive reforms to drive reform in the way we treat animals in Africa through local, national and regional legislation.
Datti made the call while delivering keynote address at the ongoing 4th Africa Animal Welfare Conference- action 2020 virtual Conference.
According to him, the donkey had been subjected to unprecedented trauma until they summoned the vision, courage and resolve to sponsor legislation to bring an end to it. “Today, the official policy of Nigerian’s Federal Government is that the killings of donkeys and donkey skin trade are banned while the Bill itself is on the verge of being passed by the National Assembly. The lesson to be taken away from such proactive initiatives is self-evident. Thus, a first step towards preserving our animals would be to send the communiqè at the end of this conference to ALL Governments and Parliaments across Africa to exhort them to action. And I for one cast my vote of support for the Universal Declaration on Animals Welfare (UDAW) as well as a follow-up broad international convention.
He also emphasized that the role of civil society must also be broadened. The Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) has been at the forefront of efforts to sensitize and inspire our continent about the importance of plight of animals in Africa. Sadly, few others have taken up this responsibility of creating a synergy of purpose of action between government and the people as well as peaceful and mutual coexistence between animals.
The discussion is timely because although animals are not less important in the scheme for the existence of survival of man and universe, they are regrettably always at the base in the hierarchy of concerns. The theme of this conference resolves around conservation and sustainability.
Animal welfare can hardly be overstated given the cruel and unusual punishment that animals are usually subjected to in our continent and elsewhere. The threats to wildlife are innumerable including the reckless and self-serving activities of poachers.
The threats to environmental conservation are similarly numerous including oil splits and deforestation. These components of the theme, therefore have at their mutual core the sustainability of Africa’s animals resources. So do Nature-based Solution (NBS).
It’s commendable that the theme of this conference underlines the neglected link between animal farming, wildlife and animal conservation on the one hand and sustainable development on the other. A group of erudites scholars critically note that the SDGs do not acknowledge the impact of animals towards their attainment. They state:
The condition of animals in achieving the SDGs is not recognized nor made explicit. Nevertheless, there are obvious areas where animals play an important role in the context of sustainable development. These include for instance food security, transportation, employment and livelihood.
Not a mention of animals in the SDGs! Take donkeys for instance – according to some statistics, over six hundred million households in rural communities around the world depend on the donkey, which is now classified by the United Nations as ” Working Livestock”, for their survival. Just donkeys. What about chickens, goats, cattles etc? However, I prefer to see this enormous vacuum, upon which many might call the SDGs elitist, as an innocent lacuna. After all, even the elite eventually, if not invariably, interact with animals and livestock.
Our relationship with animals in Africa is quite peculiar, quite different from other civilisation. Perhaps no civilisation is as dependent on animals, in varying capacities, as African i.e. Transport, food, companions, appliance among others things. But as connected as we are to them, there is always a reason for decimation of animals in Africa. Dogs are religiously mistreated. Cats are killed in many places based on the unproven, superstitious links to the occultly. As central as they have been to our sustenance, there has been little or no proactive effort to safeguard, if not improve the welfare of animals in the continent.
Precise Post recalls that the conference literally brings together all the critical stakeholders in any discussion on animal welfare, wildlife, environmental conservation and sustainable development.