Visit the Kano Zoological Garden One Last Time
By Nuraddeen Danjuma
Barely eight days ago, exactly on Friday, my junior brother (13 years old) approached me holding his sister’s hand (4 years old) and asked “may we visit the Kano Zoological Garden one last time before it is destroyed”.
My answer was whenever you are ready. And the boy interjected “we have to go soon because she (the girl he’s holding) has never visited the garden and the state government is destroying it. I am sure these kids loved the place and wouldn’t want it destroyed!!.
Those kids are among the millions in Kano and elsewhere who opposed the displacement of an ecological model such as the famous Kano Zoological Garden. So, identifying with those people is not only an act of patriotism but a religious obligation. When Muslim Army invaded and storm the opponents’ communities, they are ordained not to harm women, children, sick and the injured as well as not to destroy their plants.
Kano State is lucky to have such a religious man as their Governor. Sir, for being outstanding in success stories of Abuja City and most importantly an embodiment of Islam, this destruction to the ecosystem must not take place under your watch. Such misapplication of force to isolate and devastate the garden will only lead to large-scale environmental perturbations and crises.
Importantly, Kano Zoological Garden is a home to biodiversity. It is home to millions of animals, plants and microbes – the captured, the tamed and the wild who have the same life as we do. Specially, it has a collection of more than 60 species of animals in captivity including large mammals, primates, reptiles and birds; the carnivores and herbivores and also micro-organisms. Essentially, the Zoo is the only explicit life support string to those species hence a quest for partitioning it’s land for whatever reason is contagious as COVID-19.
Sadly while developments elsewhere have been heralded, deliberately by re-greening cities, here we are planning and implementing decisions which prescribes calamity.
The Zoological Garden has been a major carbon sink in the Kano Metropolis. Interestingly, this characteristic green space constitutes about 24 genera and 14 families of various plants which primarily sink the terrestrial carbon generated by human activity free of charge. In absolute carbon terms, the protection of green space and specifically the avoidance of deforestation deliver the highest carbon saving tasks.
Therefore rather than spending huge billions on carbon sequestration and addressing climate change, it is imperative to keep the protected area intact. In the era of ‘donor fatigue, dwindling revenues and nature fighting back, I am sure the Governor will think twice and save Kano from everlasting implications and risks associated with defamation of this iconic landscape.
According to the 2018 World Air Quality Report, air quality in Kano contains an average mean PM 2.5 concentration of 53.4μg/m3 which is more than 5 times above the maximum limits recommended by the World Health Organization. I am sure should there be the likes of the Garden in the metropolis to play vital role is air purification; the widespread apparent rates of respiratory tract diseases might be decimated.
Beyond some ecological importance aforementioned, the Kano Zoological Garden is a potential revenue generation resource. As part of the main thrust of this administration – revenue collection, the garden could perhaps generate more millions for the state if well taken care of. It is major attraction in Kano presently.
Beside we were made to understand the financial strength of the Garden when gorilla ate up a whooping sum of 6.8 million naira in 2019 which were generated from tourist during Eid celebrations. Apparently, the relocation will also negatively affect economic activities in the area. If the relocation persists, all formal and informal activities that support million households and particularly the youth will shamble. Insecurity and poverty may rise because the youth are jobless. Kano will fall again. God forbid!!
Despite popular rhetoric that the Zoological Garden causes pollution, congestion and that noise is affecting the animals, let’s me categorically opine that animals are very susceptible to slight changes in the environment. If they are moved, they may adapt or die. More so, anthropogenic environmental change affects health of wildlife and cause potential deficits in their reproduction as well as new immune challenges.
Sincerely, if the aim of relocating the iconic space is welfare of animals and human beings, empirical evidence suggest that there are more land uses deserving relocation on the account of same challenges including Sharada & Dakata Industrial Zones.
The Sharada Industrial Zone despite massive emission of effluents (heavy metals) particularly dioxin which poses risk of cancer, now harbor millions of Kano citizens. Also, this frequently move into our waters through eutrophication and end up in our system – fish, cabbage, lettuce, carrot, sugar cane, salad etc which pose health risks. Noise pollution around the Zoological Garden range from 50 to 55dB (A) and lower in the inner due to trees, although this is high too, that of Sharada & Dakata Industrial Zones as well as Kofar Ruwa (where millions reside) are higher at between 60 to 65dB (A). Trees are natural buffer. Please save the area.
Above all, the Kano Zoological Garden is a legacy. It has existed since 1972 and survived 17 administrations – 9 military & 8 civilian. According to a colleague, only the Garden remains among the nine designated green spaces in Kano metropolis. Based on the principle that “someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree long time ago” – Gary Vaynerchuk, we call on all good men and women to take responsibility to act and carve their names on the hearts not on tombstones. Police Commissioner Audu Bako did his best by creating the space, thus his name remain in our hearts even though we did not meet him live.
Sincerely, planting trees along major roads and roundabouts is not a replacement of the lost habitat.The latter is mere beautification of landscape and therefore replacing trees to be lost in the Garden with ornamental species or supporting that is like ‘living in world that will not support life”. According to Bryce Nelson “People who do not plant trees today will soon live in a world that will not sustain people.”
As a teacher and concerned citizen, I call on stakeholders to regurgitate, change mind and contribute to a future in which natural and human systems can co-exist sustainably on the Earth.
Danjuma writes from Bayero University, Kano
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