This is the story of our Conservation Work so far. In fact, this is the beginning. If you feel inspired, Please Check out and explore the rest of our site www.wildlifeafrica.org and other stories.
Sometimes in April, 2016, while I was in my Master’s program at the Universidad Internacional De Andalusia (UNIA), Spain, on Wildlife Management and Conservation of Species, and I was at a critical decision period as to how I am going to use all the knowledge I am getting to impact on species conservation back at home in Nigeria; I remember asking one of my lecturers, “Where do I begin from”? A Video emerged from the shores of Nigeria of a Sea Turtle taken and been sold on the streets of Lagos.
At that moment, it dawned on me that there is an Urgent need for Wildlife Education in Nigeria and reading through the comments on that particular post, I believed my question, where do I begin from was answered. So I discussed with colleagues and my lecturers in Spain, and before long I conceived and founded Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative – a concept developed as “A Special Wildlife Conservation, Research, Education and Rescue Initiative” with a Vision to inspire “A Growing generation, knowledgeable and motivated to take positive actions on behalf of the ‘Wildlife’– Plants and animals that share our land and sea with us and the environment”. Special mention must be made of my colleagues in the CITES Master’s – Bintu Sia Foray Musa (Sierra Leone), James Oppong (Ghana), Mawdo Jallow (The Gambia), Trokon Grimms (Liberia), Jessica Stabile (USA); My Lecturers at UNIA- Helen Pierre (EU), Pamela Scruggs (USA); a friend and alumnus of UNIA Maribel Rodriguez (Belgium) and someone that came into my life and has turned out to be a great mentor – Anna Stamatiou (Greece); all whom I shared this dream with in the early stages and they made positive suggestions to shape the initiative into what it is today and they still do offer me guidance and advice.
On my return to Nigeria, I sought out ordinary Nigerians that feel motivated to do something for Wildlife and the Environment to work with me. Right now, I have over 80 volunteers working with me, two University lecturers serving as advisors to us and a number of Local and international collaborators from Nigeria here, Germany, Greece, Italy, Botswana, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Ghana, The Gambia, Liberia, South Africa, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Israel, Turkey, New Zealand, Namibia, Belgium, Kenya, Malaysia, Cameroon, Barbados and the United States and the list is growing.
Over the last five months and counting, I have also set up a team devoted to protecting the help sea turtles. For every mother sea turtle coming to lay eggs at the beach as their adaptive features, the risk is an understating adjective for what they face. They not only will be poached but the unborn generations which are the eggs they have come to release for incubation and hatching are poached. The idea, however, kick-started a year before, from the day I rescued a darling mother sea turtle that has come out to fulfill her creator-given nature. I gave her ‘Ariyike’ meaning see me and care for me. This has been my drive and apparently titled the project, ‘Project Ariyike’.
Fortunately, this project has been closely sponsored by AGA, and SWOT who have willingly funded equipment to protect these helpless Beauties. More sponsorship and donations are needed. We need to set up community engagement and outreach programs, alternative livelihoods and economic sustainability schemes, tourism opportunities and bycatch release program. We continue to urge the generality of people to please contact us as you can be assured that every penny will be devoted to conserving these endangered species.
We have by this means also created an Elephant Exhibition as well where we use banner materials, videos and artwork of Elephants, Rhinos and Lions to educate our children on these megafaunas. We have started to take this exhibition to schools and we need to do more. During the last Global March for Elephants and Rhino March, GMFER, has funded for us multimedia equipment to enable our work.
Furthermore, I have set up an office, Wildlife of Africa Alerts, Information and Data Centre (WildlifeAID Centre) in Ijebu-ode where we provided accommodation for every one that has decided to volunteer with us, if not extremely comfortable at least we manage as a form of sacrifice for our Wildlife. We hope to transform this into a full fledge Conservation Academy. We have met with the Ogun State Government Ministry of Education Department and they have given us the List of Requirements, top of which is a minimum of 10 standard classrooms. We already have a Property (WildlifeAID Centre), we just need to do renovation work or we buy a landed property near nature and build from scratch. Brick by brick, mortar by mortar, we shall build our Conservation Academy for the benefit of the disadvantaged children from communities living close to Wildlife where we work, while providing an alternative for the children of Elites as well. Anything, anyone can do to support us in this mission to build will be appreciated.
I am not just interested in wildlife but it’s habitat, surrounding environment and all that is linked to its survival. Therefore, I have founded an organization, Lagos Lagoon WaterKeeper licensed and under the mother body of WaterKeeper Alliance based in New York to ensure every community has right to swimmable, fishable and drinkable water. This needs serious funding as we have plans and program lined up to keep our waters Clean for humans well-being and to prevent plastic wastes affecting marine life and animals.
We have set up several other programs to keep discussions going and encourage people to choose a Wildlife Friendly disposition to life. We have Bird watching and Atlassing adopted to know and understand our diverse bird species and associated ecology. We are using sports to create awareness that our wildlife deserves to live free, safe and wild where we sponsored Ogun state representative for an ‘all girls’ international marathon in Lagos. Also, visiting schools for wildlife education using exhibitions (donated by AGA and GMFER) and wildlife videos.
A big one, we are collaborating with Wildlife Conservation Film Festival (WCFF) Inc. NY. as we have signed an agreement with them to not only market their products in Nigeria exclusively but to invite them to train our people in Wildlife Filmmaking and Photography. This intends to create opportunities and awareness under Wildlife for the masses and will have tentatively fixed 28th December 2018 – 10th January 2019 if we can find the funding to host them, pay for their flight tickets and the training fee. A whole lot of preparations are already ongoing.
There are still more tremendous activities to be done, as I desire to restore sanity, to have a positive Impact on human behavior which has been the cankerworm that has eaten into the wood of Wildlife Plants and animals. I know wildlife deserve to live just like humans and will continue to stand and advocate for nature. Nature will grow, nature will survive, nature will flourish, it will thrive and everyone will live freely and happy because nature will be conserved.
Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative provided a Platform where any Wildlife professional or enthusiast with or without Wildlife or Conservation background who feel motivated to take positive actions for Wildlife of Africa can express themselves and their love for Nature. We have created several actions through which they can express themselves and if what they want to do for Wildlife and Nature is not on the list, we would help them find their calling. To me to work for Wildlife, to work for Nature, for the Environment is a vocation. It is a calling. I literally call myself Wildlife Evangelist and I have also been awarded a Wildlife Science Don Title by the Universidad Internacional De Andalusia, in a Master’s Degree.
Check out the list below of our various Conservation actions and we have carried out one action or the other on each of the under-listed. More details available on our website www.wildlifeafrica.org.
1. Wildlife Education
a] Sea turtle Exhibition
b] Professional Training in Conservation
c] Online School for Endangered species
d] Wildlife and Livelihoods
e] Urban Greenery and Gardening and Pollinators
2. Conservation Excursion
a] Nature Saturdays
b] Trips to Conservation Centres
c] Private Land Conservation
3] Research – Research Actions
a] Mammal Inventory
c] Prunus africana
d] CITES Implementation
4] Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Operations
a] Species Conservations Plans
I] ProjectAriyikes – Sea Turtle
Ii] Vultures in conjunction with Lufasi
b] Wildlife Watch Network
c] Alert, Information and Data Centre.
5] Social Action and Advocacy
A] Global March for Elephant and Rhino
B] World Wildlife Day
C] Wildlife and Environmental issues
D] #WildlifeFriendly Badges Award
E] #MyConservationStory platforms
I have recently been invited to host a Webinar for the International Development House on Sustainable Development Goals of 14 (Life under Water) and 15 (Life on Land). We are hosting 2 events for the World Wildlife Day 2018 (Big Cats: Predators under threat) at both the United States of America Embassy in Nigeria and at our WildlifeAID Center. We are at about now even getting the attention of a USAID funded ECOWAS protocol, West African Biodiversity and Climate Change Program, WABiCC, Actors of Sea Turtles conservationist in Central Africa, RASTOMA and that of the IUCN PPI, in West Africa to set up a Network of Sea Turtles Actors in West Africa from Liberia to Nigeria.
© Felix Olusola ABAYOMI
Founder and CEO, Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative.
WildlifeAID Centre (Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative)
Plot 6, Sani-Luba Road, Opposite, Veterinary Clinic, Besides NTA, Ijebu-Ode, 120231, Ogun State, Nigeria