By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

The Renevlyn Development Initiative (RDI) has called on the Plateau State government to stop illegal mining activities in the Jos Wildlife Park and surrounding communities and rehabilitate them to their pristine state.

RDI call comes on the heels of a Save Our Souls from residents of Tudun Wada, Dong and Federal Low Cost Housing on the dangers posed by the illegal mining of ore in their vicinity which has left their farmlands with sinkholes.

They also feel that officials of the park are complicit and look the other way while the mining activities escalate.
RDI gathered that the mining activities have systematically decimated the elephant, baboon and hyena population in the park while the three communities with a population of about 800,000 people have been losing their members to loose soil that usually give way whenever they go to farm.

The Jos Wildlife Park was established by Governor Joseph Gomwalk in 1972 and is reputed as a place where nature has been conserved. It is one of the biggest natural/artificial zoological garden and park in the country.  But all that has changed in the last decade. The natives narrated that the illegal mining activities in the park and surrounding communities have the tacit support of corrupt government officials who make money from the miners and turn a blind eye on their activities.

According to RDI Board member, Tobias Lengnan Dapam, beyond the environmental hazards that locals face, the once serene environment which is a natural habitat of animals and visiting tourists is now disturbed and noisy due to digging and other unsound environmental practices.

“The locals now feel a heightened sense of insecurity as crime spirals in the communities due to the influx of non-natives whose identities are not known.”

Reacting to the development, RDI Project Officer, Ifeoluwa Adediran said that the situation in the Jos Wildlife Park and surrounding communities is worrisome in view of the disruption of the livelihoods of the locals, threats to peace and security and potentials for revenue generation being allowed to fritter away.

“The Plateau State Government must immediately restore the park to its former glory by proscribing mining activities there and declaring the environment and surrounding communities’ disaster zones”

Adediran explained that there is need for a comprehensive environmental audit of the Jos Wildlife Park and surrounding communities, preparatory to their rehabilitation even as she added that for this to happen there is need for consensus building among host communities on the need to stop the practice.

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