Video of manatee being dragged along dusty road sparks outrage

Nigeria’s environment ministry is investigating incident 

Rory Sullivan
Tuesday 25 February 2020 15:05
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Manatee in Nigeria dragged along road

The Nigerian environment ministry said it will launch an investigation after a video surfaced of a group of men dragging a tied-up manatee along a dirt road.

In the footage the animal looks to be in great dicomfort, flapping around as it is dragged by a rope around its tail for several metres.

The incident took place on 21 February in the oil-rich Delta region of the country, according to Blue Planet Society, an environmental campaign group who received the video.

In response to the video, Sharon Ikeazor, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment, strongly condemned the act on Twitter on Sunday.

She called it a “very distressing and distasteful” video, saying the animal being dragged to “a cruel fate by some ill informed youth”.

There are only 10,000 African manatees, which are largely herbivorous, left in the wild, according to data compiled in 2015 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Since its population size is falling quickly, the animal is on the IUCN’s “red list” for endangered species.

Blue Planet Society described the incident as “horrific”.

“That a supposedly protected West African manatee can be abused in such a public way in Nigeria is shocking," the group said.

Soon after the video started to circulate online, Dr Lucy Keith-Diagne, an African manatee specialist, posted pictures of two dead manatees, which had allegedly been killed in Akassa, Nigeria.

In the post on Monday, she wrote: “I could share pictures like this almost every day. We need to stop this crisis.”

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