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By CityVoice 

A massive urban centre such as Lagos is probably a wrong place for talks of a co-existence between human beings and animals – especially the wild, untamed ones.

 

Growth Map of Lagos Source: Lindsay Sawyer

Growth Map of Lagos. Source: Lindsay Sawyer

But this is something that Lagos and its planners must necessarily take into consideration, least of all because the city keeps growing and pushing into the many centuries’ old swamps and wetlands that make up a large percentage of the state’s land mass.

Buoyed by technology, there is virtually no terrain that is immune for human construction these days. Why, we are even now reclaiming large parts of the Atlantic ocean for the massive Eko Atlantic City project? In the seemingly unequal battle between man and nature, man appears to be having the edge – and the cities are a good example of this conquest.

Most of the original forests in places like Lagos are long gone – and with them the fauna and flora that inhabited them. The remaining sections are being rolled back – and we are witnessing the last throes of the extinction of the animals therein.

It is only hardy animals such as snakes and alligators that are still in existence in some of the swamps in Lagos. And these are now showing up in human habitations. The snakes are in a race against time. But they, or other animals threatened by the unremitting sprawl of Lagos, do not have to perish. Government can create a sanctuary for them. It is a shame that Lagos does not have a zoo or wildlife sanctuary worthy of the name.

This could be a good place to start. It would be a good place to educate our children – and ourselves – about nature, and it could earn a tidy sum for the state. If there is a place to keep these animals, then residents would not need to kill them off one by one.

Were the state government to impose a moratorium on construction in the threatened wetlands in the state, it would also be protecting the state’s ecosystems. No matter how sanguine we might feel about the eradication of the unfortunate beasts, all of nature’s creatures – including man – are mutually reliant.

As a university don stated succinctly, killing these animals could have a negative impact on the environment, as these reptiles also occupy a very vital position in the food chain and their disappearance could shake up the ecosystem in more ways than one.

This article first appeared in CityVoice on Dec 2, 2013

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