Conservationists in Nigeria has mounted pressure on Cross River State government to halt construction of a proposed six-lane superhighway through the country’s rainforest which is a home for thousands of people and wildlife.
Latime report says, the superhighway, is planned to be 162 miles long with six miles of cleared land on either side.
Governor Ben Ayade, who’s the master mind behind the infrastructural development, proposed that the superhighway, which is expect to include modern facilities such as Wi-Fi access, would stretch from northern Nigeria to a deep seaport in the south, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
According to activists of environmental and cultural habitat, the construction would displace at least 180 indigenous communities and slice through a national park and adjoining forest reserves that provide habitats for some of the country’s most beleaguered species, including the endangered Cross River gorilla, chimpanzees, forest elephants and pangolins— the world’s most poached mammal, whose scales are prized in traditional medicine.
Many of the conservationists and people in about 180 local communities are mobilizing against the highway, for both human’s and animals interest.
They also protests the fact that the road would cut through several protected areas such as the Cross River National Park, Ukpon River Forest Reserve, Cross River South Forest Reserve, Afi River Forest Reserve, and the Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary.
These sites are reportedly home to various threatened species, including Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees, drill monkeys, Preuss’s red colobus monkeys, slender-snouted crocodiles and African gray parrots, among many others.
Wildlife officials lamented that survival of the world’s rarest great ape, the Cross River gorilla, which numbers fewer than 300, is also at risk if its habitat is disrupted and impaired. Already, the protest has span internationally with more than 100,081 signed petitions, according to officials of Wildlife Conservation Society.
Speaking on the controversial issue, the executive vice president of the org. John Calvelli said:
“It is very troubling and worrisome for us that the great work Nigeria has done to create these areas and protect them could be undermined by this [highway] development.
“We’re particularly concerned about the communities. Without those communities we are not going to have good stewards of our natural world.
“Building a superhighway of that size through a natural park will only bring poachers closer to the wildlife.”
Meanwhile, Governor Ayade has rejected suggestions the new highway would significantly harm the region’s wildlife and dubbed opposition to the project ‘a campaign of lies’ concocted by a couple of disgruntled officials.