U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria James F. Entwistle visited Cross River state December 14-17 on a rare diplomatic visit, touring one of Africa’s oldest tropical rainforest ecosystems.
Demonstrating U.S. support for Nigeria’s efforts to preserve its forests and combat poaching and wildlife trafficking, Ambassador Entwistle toured the Drill Ranch on Afi Mountain and the 4,000-square kilometer Cross River National Park.
At the two biodiversity hotspots, the Ambassador engaged government officials, park rangers, and environmentally focused NGOs like Pandrillus and the Wildlife Conservation Society on exploring ways of helping the federal and state governments further promote conservation and stop the illicit trade in wildlife.
While recognizing the importance and urgency of combating wildlife trafficking, Ambassador Entwistle delivered a wildlife conservation speech at the American Corner in Calabar and underscored the U.S. government’s commitment to taking positive measures in addressing the global challenge of climate change.
“We hope to expand our cooperation in joint training, technical exchanges, information sharing, and public education on promoting conservation, while combating poaching and wildlife trafficking here in Nigeria,” Ambassador Entwistle said at the public event that included 200 university students, faculty, state officials, and NGO representatives.
“The U.S. government, through our Fish and Wildlife Service, has been a long-time partner of the Wildlife Conservation Society, providing $1.25 million over the past five years to promote conservation of the rare primate species that call this region home,” he added.
During the visit, Ambassador Entwistle granted an exclusive interview to EbonyLife TV, “Africa’s first Global Black Entertainment and Lifestyle network.” The Ambassador underscored the mutual cooperation between the United States and Nigeria, highlighted the Young African Leaders Initiative, and discussed the U.S. presidential campaigns.
To conclude his visit to Cross River, Ambassador Entwistle toured a facility currently under construction in Calabar by General Electric (GE), a U.S. corporation, and met with the firm’s executive management. GE is investing $250 million in the facility, which will manufacture equipment for the oil and gas industry and will create 300 new jobs and more than 1,000 jobs indirectly through the more than 50 new suppliers who will support expanded operations. The company will provide one-year to four-year training programs for engineers, welders, fabricators, and machinists in what will become one of the firm’s biggest investments in sub-Saharan Africa.