Despite constant exposure of environment to forest species loss and decimation as a result of anthropogenic perturbations resulting from urbanization, agriculture, industralization, deforestation and other sundry activities, the presence of the critically endangered sclater’s Monkey Specie Guenon has been established and documented in Ikot Uso Akpan Itam, Itu Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom State.
Hence, RONEL Consult Limited (a foremost environmental outfit in Akwa Ibom state) in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) is gearing towards using the Sclater’s Guenon locally known as “Adiaha Awa Itam” by the people of Ikot Uso Akpan Itam to place the community on the world’s tourism map.
Dr. Isidore Akpan-Ebe, who is the Principal Consultant and Managing Director of RONEL Consult Limited disclosed during a one day promotional conference/Seminar on the Critically Endangered Sclater’s Monkey Species in Ikot Uso Akpan Itam, Itu Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
The promotional Seminar was on the instance of UNDP- GEF under the auspices of the State Ministry of Environment and solid Minerals and facilitated by RONEL Consult Limited after many months of awareness and advocacy undertakings with relevant stakeholders which included Traditional Institutions, of Ikot Uso Akpan Itam community, Elders, women groups and youth organisations with the vision of bringing to the fore, the presence of primate endangered species sclater’s Guenon.
Sclater’s Guenon (Cercopithecus sclateri) also known as sclater’s Monkey and the Nigerian Monkey, locally known as “Adiaha Awa Itam”, by Ikot Uso Akpan natives, in Itu Local Government Area of the State was thought to be nearly extinct until the late 1980s and is currently known to occur in several isolated populations among Niger, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, the Guinean Forests of the West Africa biodiversity hotspot region, the Environmentalist say.
The Versity Don and Environmental Consultant posited that UNDP-GES both organs of United Nations have taken up the challenge at the forefront in promoting and funding conservation projects around the world in order to heal the earth.
He further informed that in other to execute the programme successfully in Nigeria, especially in the Niger Delta, the UN organs are working in close collaboration with individual governments and in synergy with the local communities, Government and Oil and Gas Industries operating in the area because of the damage of bioderversity on the environment occasioned by the activities of the multi-National Oil and Gas Industries.
“We will continue to engage the public in the discuss that will eventually lead to guided tourism and to contribute to the economic advancement of the Ikot Uso Akpan Community, Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria”. He assured.
He lauded the stakeholders, opinion leaders and indigenes of the community for conserving the rare specie which culminated in the hosting of the epochal seminar/workshop.
Dr. Akpan-Ebe thanked the United Nations Development Programmes and Global Environment Facility who are the Sponsors for Niger Delta Biodiversity Projects. He further appreciated Federal Government of Nigeria, Akwa Ibom State Government and State Ministry of Environment for partnering with the donor agencies to attract the project to the State.
His special appreciation went to the State Commissioner for Environment and Solid Minerals, Dr. Inibong Essien for his co-operation and commitment to ensuring the success of the project in the State and sued for concerted efforts from relevant stakeholders in harnessing the natural heritage with the aim of improving tourists sector of the State.
In his speech , the State Commissioner for Environment and Solid Minerals, Dr. Inibong Essien commended UNDP, GET and RONEL Consult Limited for organising the programme and specially lauded the braveness of Ikot Uso Akpan people for re-aligning their culture to accommodate that of conserving the Sclater’s Guenon.
The Commissioner said that conservation of this rare specie bothers on the culture of some socio- indigenenous activities which have become the hallmark of some communities in the biodiversity region, Niger Delta Region where animals are referred
While reassuring the comitment of the State Government in strengthening tourism sector, he remained optimistic that the innovation shall showcase the Community, Itu Local Government Area and Akwa Ibom State to the world and attract tourists to the State.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman on the occasion, Sir, Valentine Attah in his opening remarks, observed that the main threats to extant of sclater’s Monkey are habitat destruction particularly on bush burning and destruction of topical forests that adversely emits a greater percentage of the global green-house gases causing climate change as well as hunting of primates for food.
Sir Attah re-aligned that Sclater’s Guenon commonly and locally referred to as “Adiaha Awa Itam” was initially thought to be extinct until somewhere in a domain called Ikot Uso Akpan where the people have taken the pains of its conservation.
“The specie in discuss was initially feared extinct until it was sighted first at Imo State in the late 80s ever since, several isolated species of monkeys have been reported in this region and in greater habitation in other places like Itu, Ikot Uso Akpan in Akwa Ibom State leading to the present conservation Status and the interest of the United Nations”. He elucidated.
The workshop received goodwill messages from; Commissioner for Investment, Commerce and Industry, Barr. Prince Ukpong Akpabio, representatives from UNDP-GEF, Head of Department, Forestry and Natural Environmental Management, University of Uyo, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Chairman, Nigerian Environmental Society among other individuals, Organisations and Departments.
However, participants were thrilled with interesting and entertaining features such as: drama sketches, monkey dance by both youth and women groups as well as exhibition of farm produce and forest products, local crafts and handiwork from Ikot Usoh Akpan Community.
High point of the Seminar was papers presentation by resources persons on: “Conservation and Preotection of the Sclater’s Guenon in Akwa Ibom State: Historical and and Cultural Perspective”,
“Habitat Preservation land Survival of the Sclater’s Guenon” and “Monkey Sharing Environmmet with Man: Reminisces”.
Other topics were: “Legal Obligation for Conservation of Sclater’s Guenon”, “Options for the Conservation of the Sclater’s Guenon” and “Promoting Sustainable Culture and Traditional Eco-Tourism Through Biodiversity Conservation”.