This aspect of the research highlights various challenging issues affecting indigenous political economy and ecology in relation to conservation law. It explores the cultural transformation that reshaped the existing notion of livelihood in south western Nigeria. It addresses the unfinished discourse on forest ordinance in relations to the transformation of the 1916 wild animal preservation law of western Nigeria and the wild animal preservation act of 1939. It addresses the impact, effect and implications of colonial policy on the tropical wildlife as a result of the above ordinance. This article also discusses the purpose of establishing a research council in Nigeria and Africa at large; due to the wide range of scientific problems arising from both the field of applied and social sciences regarding the socio-economic impact of colonialism cum policy on the people and their resources. Since the required local investigation peculiar to colonial conditions can only be studied within the colonies, research was therefore, channelled strictly to interrogate problems demanding local inquiry on colonial forest and wild lives.
The research council established by the colonialist had an advisory body that was responsible for determining which aspect of the tropical resources, was to be conserved. In lieu of this, the Governor General Sir Bernard Bourdillon commissioned the new Forest School at Ibadan on May 1, 1941. At this time, Captain Wood acting on behalf of the Chief Conservator Mr Oliphant – who was reported to have been on administrative break during the event, outlined steps which led to the successful establishment of the school. In his speech, he strongly emphasised the importance of accurate observation and reasoned interpretation of things seen on the field to the guest – Sir Bernard Bourdillon. He listed different courses that were to be taken by the students and buttressed that instructions would be carried out by the officer in charge of the school and the officer in charge of the research branch as assisted by the African master – who was to assist the Europeans navigates into the roots of the local people – a moves that erupted conflict among the indigenous people and the colonial masters.
While he stressed that the school was purely to embark on practical – that involved spending considerable time of their study in the forest. The students were directly mobilised to assist the colonial masters in exposing the indigenous people, as well as the socio-economic activities as regard trading in forest resources. With this, land use among the indigenous people came prohibited despite the socio-cultural impact of Africa resources management. The emphasis placed on the opening of the forest school was placed on the conservation and regeneration of timber resources of the country which was perhaps the most lucrative imperial business of the period. While the colonial master emphasised the danger of over exploitation of the forest resources as factors responsible for the creation of the forest school at Ibadan. Claims by the colonial capitalists that enormous area of the world surface is in danger due to the failure of the past generation to realise the full result of the haphazard and indiscriminate use or destruction of the world forests left timber value negligible.
Conservation, Preservation and Reservation: A Climax of Colonial Rule
According to Bourdillon, “… a stern disregard of certain immediate consideration…for, in the vital interests of prosperity and the future food supplies of the world, they will have to enforce regulations which are disliked by the short-sighted peasant of today” This indicated that the program was to train Africans to undertake wider and more important duties in forest intensive care for imperial benefit. This is because most of the colonial soldiers were to return to Europe, while some had gone before this time to embark on military duties or other duties directly connected with the war. The idea to bring ordinary people to control the use of forest resources was responsible for the several confrontations among the ruling elites, the traditional elites and the colonial masters. This is because forest management has been the affairs of this class of elites. The traditional native doctors who initially consult forests for medical assistance and treatment, the hunters who seek forest products for livelihood among others whose livelihood is deeply depended on forest resources could no longer utilized such resources due to the colonial policy.
Human population expansion cum the drastic decrease in game population thus, man and his crops, livestock and other works occupy areas previously populated by wild animals which are either driven out or killed. This form of accelerated development and resettlement is likely to make some species of game not to survive. An interview section with Baba Aprin, a prominent hunter and only survivor of his age in Ibadan authenticate that; “We were warned that creatures in this part of the world are going to vanish in the near future, and that the forest has become devoid of all animals”. The reason they gave was that wild animals are asset in which it provides a valuable source of meat and by-product such as; hides skins, ivory, bones, feathers and so on among several valuable parts of other wild animals for foreign exchange. According to the colonial researchers, wild animals are exterminated more due to tsetse fly control operations.
In contrast to this, the colonial research body was to work in line with the field of biology and zoology simply because the colonial capitalists’ in contrast claimed to consciously paid more attention to healthy environment at the expense of economic development while it downplayed the local socio-cultural existence to eco-political benefit. While the wild life preservation ordinance made it possible for the colonial capitalists to obtain revenue that further increased import duties on arms and ammunition used for hunting of games, it becomes clear that such benefit of development would be an enormous exercise in futility since the path and strategies to combat unfortunate environmental destruction are linked to economic gain and economic developmental process. This was the condition that negotiated tropical forest resources with colonial finished goods. Thus, leaving Nigeria as a whole to strive hard at reforming, reshaping and transforming herself as a nation during and after independence. Despite their claims to be animal philanthropists, the colonial masters’ environmental activities had a severe impact on the integrity of the Nigerian ecosystem, worsening worldwide environmental and health-related problems.
Even before and after independence, the impact of the game ordinance policy, which was supposed to rest on finding a balance between games as a valued asset, quickly deteriorated as an asset. Unsustainable methods espoused by the colonialists are undermining a rich environmental resource-based part of the country (southwestern) in Nigeria. Deforestation was encouraged as a result of the 1939 global conflict. In this competition, deforestation is defined as the ongoing removal and destruction of considerable sections of forest cover, resulting in a highly degraded environment and reduced biodiversity, as well as soil erosion and desertion.
During the war time, the colonialist exploitatively extracts resources of the tropical forest to sustain their dying economy resulting from the effect of the war. The comments of R.S. Marshall like his counterparts prove that the local economy was not marginally used just to boost the imperial economy but also to develop the imperial states. According to him, “…the outbreak of a major World War [is] to bring potential resources to the surface…on the outbreak of the war economy takes a back seat; and so it becomes possible to weather the initial remunerative phase of development without much difficulty”.
One of the major arguments put forth was that some games – elephant, wild-pigs, rodents, and birds, are harmful in that they do damage to agriculture and forest crops. Some animals such as Leopard, Tiger and Lion serve as threat to human lives and their livestock. Although, in the southern provinces of the country, there was difficulty in the provision of the protected forest, despite, the southern province of the country been scapegoats to test-run all kind of colonial subjugation. Thus, difficulty arose as a result of the cumbersome procedure that reserve settlement involved. The assumption that proposed reserved land should be protected by law without appropriate judicial clause(s) led to some rift between the colonial masters and the native people. Until it was finally settled with an arrangement that prevent encroachment of land by farmers even though, such law was made to die in the tin air. This is because there was a peculiar form of land tenure system which the traditional people were already practicing before the new form of restriction against their indigenous right to property ownership.
Furthermore, it cannot be overstated that the problem was exacerbated when the colonial master attempted to persuade the native people to form reserves. The notion that most wild animals carry diseases that are transmissible to humans and domestic animals was demonstrated to be one of the driving forces behind the passage of the wild animal protection law, which led to the establishment of the forest reserve. The policy of the game department was rapidly pushed so as to strike a balance between game as a valuable and rapidly diminishing asset, and game in its harmful aspect to the indigenous population. In the process, colonial record proved that conservation was more effective in southern Nigeria unlike the eastern Nigeria where reservation was more difficult. It was argued that forest reservation was refused point blank in eastern Nigeria when they claimed that “we will not reserve any land, our forefathers never made reserves therefore we will not” Meanwhile, this policy was strictly followed in northern Nigeria. In southern Nigeria, the region was protected strictly by the government because the southern forest have in addition to their climate and local value, immense possibilities as a source of valuable timber and require much more detailed management than the native authorities could address at the time.
Eco-political Implication of Silviculture on the indigenous people.
In an endeavour to speed up the reservation programme it was suggested that settlement and demarcation should be carried out simultaneously by a special permanent itinerant settlement court consisting of an administrative and a forest officer with a survey party attached. This suggestion was acted on and resulted in some progress. From 1920 onwards, the European staffs of the department were considerably increased and a new reservation policy was drawn up to secure in each province a certain percentage of the available forest land for reserves. The forestry law was exempted in area where timber concessionaires were operating (predominantly southern Nigeria). According to the colonial legacy, 331/3% of land was targeted but later reduced to 25%. This proves that in time, the application of the forest law was limited to forest reserves and the restrictions imposed on the taking of forest produce outside the reserve was removed out rightly. The reservation activities was also disorganised in 1926 by the prolonged absence of colonial officers who travelled out of the country for the purpose of taking a postgraduate course in forestry at Oxford.
Like wild life preservation ordinance, the forest ordinance gave the reserve settlement officers little power of negotiation with the indigenous people – the claimants, with considerable amendment of settlement procedure that was necessary for the whole process required for re-interpretation of the law. The law instigated selective cutting under permit with a minimum timber thickness limit – the only system practical in the existing state of Nigerian forest and forestry, it was the only form of protection certainly to prevent the absolute extinction of timber in southwestern provinces, with an enforcement of the utilization of non-timber forest plants. A secondary timber of almost equally good but less well-known species, that has helped to prevent the over exploitation of forest timber resources. Despites the fact that the administrative officers was not always immediately available to perform the duties of the reserve settlement officer to settle boundary dispute and other land matters, the regional reservation of the suitable forest resources has progressed at a lamentable slow rate.
This is because there was somewhat modification in 1934 that gave individual percentage for each area compatible with its sylvan and political conditions for reposition and reassessment. This led to the talk on overhauling the ordinance with a quest for a forestry conference through the view to put the forestry ship into a more seaworthy condition. In 1935, Regulation 34 amended the scheduled of the regulation to secure reduction of minimum girths and alterations in the fees levy-able to native authorities. In that same year, the government reserves in some of the south western region like for instance Benin Division were handed over to the native authority. Though, this was made contingent on the creation of additional over one thousand square miles of reserve that was considerably opposed by the local people.
The colonial government left the local people to play their part and bear with government part of the cost of administration, and the revenue was to be shared between them and the government. The Benin Native Authority was formerly bound by the forestry ordinance and regulation but has introduced its own rules made under section 42 of the ordinance. The Chief Commissioner took strong measures to suppress the land encroachment by farmers. The utmost gravity gradually whiter away when the so called land hungers are not truly land hungers but simply due to soil impoverishment occasioned by bad farming methods which include crop rotation, shifting cultivation and bush fallowing. Thus, the colonial government claimed, it was the duty of the government to prevent the present generation from destroying the livelihood of their future descendants. Meanwhile, the native authority expressed their wish to partake in forest matters or claims to their land possession under the guidance and control of forest officers.
With the consistent argument of what aspect of the forest is to be reserved while the colonial capitalists keep exporting the resources of the forest, a conference was held in the middle of 1937 in Lagos to examine and make recommendations regarding the future policy of the forest department and to draw up programmes to carry it out with a report to be published. The report was published as a sessional paper in No. 38 of that year. Until the publication was out, none of the circle or field officer of the forest department was invited or informed that such conference was to take place. There was no representative of any who had had any extensive experience of reservation and settlement work. The optimism of the conference was not only dashed by the failure of those that were invited but was short-lived owing to an acute financial crisis that led to the withdrawal of staff that were previously promised to be increased in numbers. The financial crisis gradually curtailed the Western capitalist to effectively imposed further laws on the colonial forest as both No. 38 of 1937 and Regulation No. 1 of 1938 only came into enforcement on 1st February 1938.
In concession to give the native authority a greater measure of responsibility in this field, some of the more enlightened chiefs had begun to nurse their desire to protect the little woodland remaining in their districts. The colonial masters by this time had no choice than to grant the aspiration of the native authorities by permitting their order that further interest their stimulation of a forest sense. The conference ordinance was thoroughly overhauled and the forestry amendment ordinance of 1941 came into existence. The ordinance was a great improvement on all previous forest legislation as it clarified the sections dealing with the constitution of forest reserves which made protected forests more flexible. The ordinance made a provision whereby a further inquiry can be held by or under the direction of the native authority for the better determination of right(s) affecting lands which has been constituted a reserve.
For instance, a letter was written to the Chief Conservator in the northern part of the country from the Inspector General of the forest of the federation stating the need to yield to some aspect of the ordinance that placed the protection of the forest into the hand of the local chiefs. The letter dated January 8th 1954 placed emphasis on indigenous control of forest resources. The clause attached to the letter was because the local chiefs in the northern region were not entirely divided in thought like their southern counterpart. This is because the indirect rule that functioned more actively in northern part of the country – where centralised state government exist, to the south were despite the existence of centralised governance, family still lay claims to patrimonial belongings – land, it resources and yields. Thus, Collier proposed national parks to put a stop to forest activities in the country. While this law was taken wholeheartedly in the north, the south still debate either to accept or reject such restriction they found abusive to their human right and their ability to ownership of the forest resources.
This aspect of the public law placed on the forest, its resources – living and non-living was well debated by the colonial masters who also acknowledged the un-informed law across the country saying “A prevalent belief is that if something is successful in A, it must be similarly relevant in B. The subject of Section 7 is that while National Parks draw a lot of visitors and generate a lot of money in East Africa, they should do the same in Northern Nigeria. [a section of the 1933 international conference for on the protection of fauna and flora]. Nothing could be further from the truth. In South and East Africa there are large resident European populations which provide the majority of visitors to the national parks. It must be assumed that a large number of Africans are going to visit the parks or that tourists are going to flock to west Africa just as they do to the pleasant highlands to the East”.
Some literatures argued that the essence of the transformation of the 1916 wild animal preservation law of western Nigeria and the wild animal preservation act of 1939 was not limited to the world slump and financial depression that set in, which in turn affected the Afro-European bilateral relationship. But as a result of the 1933 international conference on the protection of Africa fauna and flora which categorised animal conservation into three; class A, B and C. This class of animals were segregated by the response of the European research team that were set to examine which part of African wildlife was over exploited and was to be conserved. The report successfully gave some animals leverage for hunting and preservation despite the fact that Africa operates a different temperate region. The establishment of control area was at the conference which was to aid effective wildlife conservation and enables each region that has not adopted the system of control area to do so.
The control areas are places where hunting was out rightly prohibited. While hunting was forbidden in this area, the colonial officers yet issued hunting permit to their counterpart who sort game as sport and a means to perfect their shooting skills. Although, the restriction permit a number of animals to be hunted while it restrict the numbers of animals based on the political and economic size of the colonial officer or guest who found interest in tropical game. While heavy sum of money was placed on game licence to discourage the participation of the indigenous people, the Europeans engaged in game activities without restriction even though there was no one to check if they had game licence or not. The control areas were outlawed to the indigenous people with outright restriction on trading in leopard skin, ivory and other parts of wild animal.
The most annoying part of the policy was the one that proves the colonial masters know less concerning the geographical features of this region yet they assumed that “much, if not all edible species has been killed except elephant”. Thus, their policy was a state-led efforts that appealed to an alternative approaches to natural resources preservation. It is therefore, a political-economic reform which some is referred to as a neoliberal reform. The eco-political transposition highlighted the colonial modernisation theory. While their policy sometime run counter to their demand, it was recorded that Engineer Bryne once proposed the extension of railway to Ifo-Ilaro on the premises that the area was considered a large market source for not just palm oil, kernels, and cocoa, but also timber, as the area is heavily wooded.
Therefore, knowing full well that the concept of natural heritage continuously gained momentum in the debates surrounding the application of international convention on the environment, conflict over resources appropriation raised number of questions linking natural heritage and environment. The linkage has to do with certain interests in the environmental policy framework. The policy was basically in contrast to the many topics of land rights and territorial claims in Africa. Since local group sabotage threat to their longstanding claims to property, resources and place-based identities, communities thus, remain the basic unit of environmental planning and project implementation. However, state agencies backed such claims only for more equitable distribution of resources and power, by promoting more extensive community involvement and participation.
The local group usually force the state to recognise the legitimacy of their local claims. In attestation to this, Wool Lewis claimed that, “Yes we would prepare draft submission as proposed at p.240. The minister does not agree with the two zones and prefers to recommend no hunting or trapping at all in the pilot area, knowing that it will occur on the fringes. If agreed in principle, to come up for 1955/56 Estimates. He does not support the preservation of leopard…”
This assertion was because prior to the establishment of the colonial government, forest conservation has been under the custody of the elites majorly chiefs, hunters and the priests. They consult the forest on behalf of the people, and issue licence for the extraction of forest product. With the above comment of Wool, the colonial state environmental managers in Africa failed to recognise the communal effort so as to accomplish environmental objectives. But rather twisted policies as it suit their fancies. With a clause that the proposed law does not support the preservation of leopard needs to be interrogated since the wild life preservation ordinance was to restrict the local people from hunting all kinds of wild animals.
In Wool’s statement, he emphasised that the minister was not in support of preserving leopard in the two major zones of West and North saying “He does not support the preservation of leopard” implies that leopard as a dangerous animal threatened the life of both the colonial masters and the local people. Aside the ferocious attack of leopard on domestic animals, it value in the international market owing to it expensive skin makes it imperative not to be conserved. According to an archival document, from the office of the permanent secretary of forestry, a recommendation was given by the recommendation committee that an embargo should be placed on export of leopard skins for a trial period of five years, but was rejected by the minister.
Ideology Vast Development: Local Perspective and Colonial Interpretation of Development
Since the global market determines colonial policy, it is therefore, not a fallacy that the ordinance connotes a state-led effort to conserve natural resources. It was a political-economic reform that emphasised local culture and capacities, and the devolution of control on local communities. In essence, the policies altered the “patrimonialisation” of nature. It means that the policies debunked the construction of nature as heritage or patrimony, and its transmission from generation to generation. Their consistent failure to domesticate forest policy led to a parliamentary report submitted by Mr Tupper-Carey to approve the setting up of a pilot reserve and the establishment of the Game Preservation Unit.
The colonial masters often considered heritage in Western system as a tool for continuous natural resources exploitation while heritage to Africans is resonated with multiple meanings. It is an act of sustaining nature and natural resources management for the benefit of the future generation. This act attest to what Jane Guyer referred to as “zone of ignorance”. Nyerges also comments that the African societies suffered a “misleading impact of the Amazonian model applied to African forests”. He emphasised that the direct “copy and paste” policy on African forests was a major factor responsible for the swift change in both the social and economic deterioration of the African people. , It is also important to state that the colonialist failed to understand that while Africa responded to farming, human landscape management activities themselves changed in response to environmental, social and economic trends. Thus, their idea on landscape degradation is deceptive because degradation may be a natural process and not human-induced factor.
The essence of the research body was to recommend what part of the forest resources in the tropic was to be conserved; as well what method of conservation model was to be adopted. It is essential that each territory have a definite policy and programme on Game which must be accepted and adhered to by the administration down to the district level. The policy was to control hunting area as Game in order to serve the purpose of aesthetic and sport purposes. Methods as to how conservation was to be adopted include educating the populist on natural resources. Education concerning natural resources was carried out in schools, amongst the chiefs (who could help the colonialist to reach out to the local people), county shows and exhibitions, pamphlets, films and so on.
The hunting law restricted the killings of wild animal and wild bird. The term wild animal or wild bird is any animal or bird other than a domestic animal or bird. The law claimed to admit to the following guidelines: (Section 3) Save with a written permit issued by the Native Authority or by some person authorised in that behalf by the Native Authority, no person who is not otherwise authorised by or under the provisions of some written law shall kill or capture or attempt to kill or capture any wild animal or wild bird within the area of jurisdiction of the Native Authority:
o Provided that no person resident within the area of jurisdiction of the Native Authority shall be required to obtain such written permit.
o A permit shall be valid for twelve months from the date of issue
o The fee payable for a permit shall be [undisclosed: but as it suit each regional officers]
o This order shall be in addition to and not in derogation from the provision of the wild animal preservation ordinance
o Any person contravening the provisions of the section 3 of this order shall be guilty of an offence and on summary conviction shall be liable:
o (a)for the first offence to a fine not exceeding five pounds, or, in default to payment, to imprisonment not exceeding fourteen days;
o (b) for each subsequent offence to a fine not exceeding twenty-five pounds or imprisonment not exceeding two month or to both such five and imprisonment.
While the law states clearly categories of animal and bird to be conserve; that is any wild (undomesticated) animal and bird, a report on progress of the chief conservator stated otherwise, as the committee took note of the chief conservator’s report that has already been circulated. The report emphasised Tupper-Carey’s view when it stated that “the chief conservator of forest explained that it had not been possible to control the control the export of leopard skins as they were not protected animals under the ordinance [wild life preservation ordinance].” It was clear, however, that the reduction in their members could be attributed to the high price of skins and was a serious matter, since they were valuable for the control of baboons, warthogs and other pests. Some degree of protection could be afforded by including them in the schedules to the ordinance or by finding means under some other law to control the export of skins, through such measures would be difficult to enforce without the cooperation of the other regions, which was unlikely to be forthcoming. It was agreed that the chief conservator should investigate the position further in consultation with the ministry and report to members.
Despite the failure of the colonialists to regulate the international trade on wild animals and wild bird exportation, they imposed sanctions on the indigenous population who sought forest resources for living. The colonial obligation supported wild animal preservation ordinance accompanied with strict regulation and imposition of fine. According to the edict of chapter 232 of 1955, which states thus “prohibit night hunting with light”. While the prohibition attracts fifty pounds fine, the other law states that “any person found in possession of light intended for hunting” are liable to pay a fine of twenty-five pounds. The law targeted Africans as culprit while it glorifies the colonial capitalist.
In essence, the colonial conservative laws are tilted towards the glorification of capitalism. Therefore, capitalists’ interest dominates most edicts and laws that shape Africans and their resources management. Through the colonial writings, taxonomy has been glorified in favour of the colonial masters, while it portrayed Africans as cruel and barbaric in the protection of wild plants and animal. Thus, the significance of the ordinances was to retain forest resources for colonial capitalists. Land was retrieved via grant, cession and leases from the native authorities who see scientific forestry as impinging on their right of land ownership which heightened tension. Colonial capitalists sought tropical forest produce in exchange for the imperial finished goods such as; mirrors, gin, cloths and shoe, and so on. While the colonialists determined the value or amount to be placed on each forest produce, they as well imposed fines on forest product they found too valuable upon the local people. Thus, it was an exploitive means to deprive the indigenous people their right to resources management so as to dominate them and their resources.