Threats to the conservation of the West African manatee (trichechus senegalensis) in Eniong Creek, Southern, Nigeria. – A. U. Ogogo, E. A.Eniang, A.A.Nchor and O. O Nkamenyin
The West African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis) has great potentials for ecotourism. It is however threatened with extinction in Enion Creek due to excessive exploitation resulting from the high commercial value of its meat, oil, skin and bone. Anthropogenic perturbations, socio-economic indices and awareness level of the local people about conservation and their impact on the survival of the species in Eniong Creek were studied. Questionnaires and interviews were used to collect data. Fifty questionnaires were distributed through stratified random sampling in the three sections of the creek in the ratio of 20, 15 and 15 respectively in line with the population of the settlements. The respondents were mainly fishermen and manatee hunters. Student’s t-test, chi-squared test and percentages were used to analyse data. Results revealed that 88% of the respondents listed hunting, deforestation, livestock grazing, bush burning and the use of chemicals as factors responsible for the declining population of manatee in the area. A significant number of respondents (43 , P<0.05, t-test) agreed that there are no local conservation laws against the killing of manatee. It was recommended that alternative livelihood options like snailery, apiculture and cane rat rearing, as well as modern farming methods be introduced to the local inhabitants to enhance the conservation of manatee. Federal and State laws against the poaching of the manatee (Trichehus senegalensis) should be enforced jn the area.