Gombe State Government has expressed its readiness to partner with private sector initiatives on developing hippopotamus colony around its water banks and harness the huge potential in wildlife conservation and eco-tourism.
Gov. Inuwa Yahaya gave the assurance while receiving Prof. Lynne Baker, a U.S.-based wildlife conservationist, who paid him a courtesy visit on Tuesday in Gombe.
The conservationist is in Gombe to understudy the underlining issues surrounding the colony of hippopotamuses at Dadin Kowa River Bank.
According to the governor, his administration is determined to tap into the eco-tourism opportunities available in the state to boost travel to natural areas, conserve the environment and improve the well-being of residents.
He stated that the visit of the wildlife conservationist was an eye opener for the state government on other areas it could harness, to develop the state.
Yahaya stated that his administration would create a conducive environment for Prof. Baker to work, as well as furnish him with the needed information to do her work.
“This is a symbiotic relationship that we must keep in the interest of our people, especially those living within the bank of the Dadin Kowa River.
“Much as we protect the endangered species, we must also protect our people from the dreaded animals, which are known for destroying farm crops and hindering fishing activities within the area,” he said.
He commended the U.S.-based team for taking special interest in Gombe towards safeguarding the environment and promoting eco-tourism.
The governor expressed gratitude to her for supporting the state government with camera drones, life jackets and other necessary tools for the successful implementation of the research work.
Earlier, Baker revealed that she was in the state to undertake a study on the population of hippopotamus within the Dadin Kowa River axis, the challenges facing the endangered species and to create awareness.
“Hippopotamus is not common in Nigeria, it is considered threatened in Africa, in the East and South of Africa, they are more common, but in the West of Africa, they are not common,” she noted.
The wildlife conservationist further noted that it was in that light that Dadin Kowa community in Gombe, became a unique location, being famous for population of hippopotamuses.
She described the Dadin Kowa Dam, as a site with huge potential in wildlife and bird diversity, stressing that her research would be a launch pad towards developing eco-tourism in Dadin Kowa community.
Baker said she had held a meeting with the local communities around the river bank, in the course of her study tour and also took photographs of the hippopotamuses and other species of bird.
She hinted that she was working with some international bodies to get a grant that would enable her work more closely with the state government to establish a hippopotamus colony in the state.
“This will ensure that the species would be confined within a particular area in Dadin Kowa to protect the animals from extinction,” she noted.
She stressed that the measure would also help boost socio-economic activities of the area, as there would be no challenge of hippopotamus grazing, destroying crops or preventing fishing activities.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that IDECC is an organisation working in fields of environmental conservation and sustainable development in mega diverse regions of the world, with emphasis on West African countries. (NAN)