Former Nigerian High Commissioner to Botswana, Ambassador Isaac Onu, has called on the Federal Government to enforce the laws on wildlife and forests preservation to boost tourism.
Onu who made the call while speaking with journalists in Lokoja, Kogi State, said the country would become a tourist destination if the laws were enforced while the potentials were harnessed.
He noted that tourism was the second largest foreign exchange earner for Botswana after diamond, and the laws protecting animals in their natural habitat were being strictly enforced.
“I discovered that one of the major instruments that attract tourists to a given country is peaceful co-existence, political stability and preservation of forests with a law backing the existence of the animals.
“In our country, even our game reserves, like the Yankari Game Reserve are at the mercy of poachers.
“But if you do not preserve this, how do you attract tourists? So, we need to address the issue of preserving the animals,” he said.
According to him, when wild animals stray into people’s compounds, the authorities are first alerted and people are not allowed to catch them or kill them and they are allowed to graze without undue restrictions, adding that all these things boil down to focus.
“If the government is desirous of harnessing and enhancing its tourism potentials, we need to create an enabling instrument that will regulate our relationship with these animals and preserve them.
“The tourism industry, apart from earning foreign exchange for the country, will also provide employment for the teeming unemployed youths in the country and as well as showcase Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage,” he said. (NAN)