Wildlife Conservation in Nigeria and the Role of Zoological Gardens
Department of Zoology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
Accepted on December 21, 2007
Zoological gardens provide an opportunity to open up a whole new world of curiosity and interest, and sensitize visitors regarding the value and the need for conservation of wildlife. From past functions in recreation as menageries and in education as living museums, they are coming to discharge these functions, plus other meaningful ones in research and conservation, as internationally oriented conservation centers. Zoos are visited by large number of people and they are potential sites for educating people about wildlife and biodiversity conservation. Zoo education can make a serious contribution to a sustainable future by providing lifestyle information and examples for visitors to make informed choices. Education is the primary function in conservation, but zoos have begun to make significant contributions as genetic refuges and reservoirs, especially for large vertebrate species threatened with extinction. Funding, research, conservation efforts, and captive breeding programmes are the concrete tools that allow zoos to lay claim to their contributions, but it is their more subtle cues that leave a lasting impression with zoo visitors. The exhibits, layout, signage and presentations reflect prevailing attitudes about nature, wildlife, exotic species, and shape ideas about how animals live their lives and what they are like in the wild. Zoo programmes can explain how easily the subtle balances in natural habitats and ecosystems are disturbed by human interference and the connections between human consumption and lifestyle and the survival of species and biological systems. Cooperation between developing and developed countries of the world in the development of technical capacities among zoo counterparts, government agencies, and protected areas would further the conservation of biodiversity. Similar involvement by other biological institutions and by biological professional associations can make important contributions to policies of nations and actions of people that determine the prospects for survival of much of the biota.