Nigeria: Video of manatee dragged along road sparks outrage

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image copyrightBlue Planet Society
image captionIt is unclear where the video was filmed, but officials said it was in the Niger Delta region

Nigeria's environment ministry has launched an investigation after a video emerged of an endangered manatee, also known as a sea cow, being dragged along a dusty road by a group of young men.

It is not clear when the footage was filmed.

The animal has been tied in ropes and can be seen trying to get away.

Deputy Environment Minister Sharon Ikeazor branded the video "very distressing", and said officials were trying to rescue the creature.

Ms Ikeazor said the incident took place in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, and called for an awareness campaign "to educate our people to protect the manatee".

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Manatees are large marine mammals, which are mostly herbivorous.

It is illegal to hunt them in Nigeria, but they are still killed for their meat, oil, and organs which are used in traditional medicine, the AFP news agency reports.

Many people in the Niger Delta are poor, despite the region's oil wealth.

Pressure group the Blue Planet Society, which campaigns to preserve ocean life, said it was shocking that a "supposedly protected West African manatee can be abused in such a public way".

image copyrightAFP
image captionManatees live underwater but breathe air

There are about 10,000 manatees along the coast of West Africa, AFP reports, but their numbers are in steep decline.

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