A combo image shows the manatee being dragged along a dusty road.
A video of a group of men dragging a tied-up manatee along a road has gone viral, making the Nigerian environment ministry release a statement on launching an investigation.
In the video the men were seen dragging the animal with a rope around its tail for several metres. From the video the animal could be seen continuously flapping around and being in great discomfort.
According to Blue Planet Society, an environmental campaign group that received the video, the animal abuse took place on 21 February in the Delta region of the country.
On Twitter, Sharon Ikeazor, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment, condemned the act, on Sunday.
In response to the video, she slammed the act on Twitter on Sunday.
She called it a “very distressing and distasteful” video, saying the animal was 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 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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