Wildlife conservation challenges in Okomu National Park, Nigeria
Okomu National Park, Nigeria, a rainforest ecosystem is known for its endemic white-throated monkey (Cercopithecus erythrogaster) and rare red-capped mangabey (Cercocebus torquatus) and a host of other forest mammals, some of which are endangered. Since its inception the area has been encroached for reasons that need to be studied. This study looked at the challenges of conserving the Park’s wildlife and other resources. The Park’s record of arrests and prosecution from 1999 to 2011 was used as secondary data while a four point Likert-scale questionnaire was used to obtain primary data. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the arrests data and the personal data of respondents. Inferential statistics were used for responses to the Likert statements. Farming was the main offence (67%) in 1999, the year with the highest recorded offence. 84% respondents opined that wild animals could only be conserved if their habitats were protected, while 91.1% believed that poor maintenance and management of protected areas could lead to loss of wildlife. Respondents’ level of education significantly affected their attitude towards wildlife conservation (P = 0.021). Age significantly affected the respondents’ orientation about poaching on wildlife (P= 0.035), and their perception about government’s roles on wildlife conservation (P = 0.024). Wildlife conservation education and enlightenment programmes would likely help in sustainable wildlife harvesting. Park staff could be more committed to protecting the resources when they are catered for appropriately. Creation of buffer zone could reduce Park’s encroachment rate.
Key Words: Park Encroachment, Wildlife Conservation, Okomu National Park