Mark Ofua
Dr. Mark Ofua with children of hunters and bushmeat sellers during an Eco-Kids Conservation Club Christmas party Author: Dr. Mark Ofua
2023

Mark Ofua

Veterinary Surgeon

healing nigeria’s wildlife

meet mark

Dr. Mark Ofua is a veterinarian, conservationist, and educator based in Lagos. He leads rescue, rehabilitation, and release efforts for Nigeria’s most endangered species, with emphasis on animals targeted for bushmeat markets and illicit wildlife trade. Dr. Ofua created SaintMarks Animal Rescue Foundation and Eco-Kids Conservation Club and established and runs both the first animal shelter ever in Nigeria and a first-of-its-kind facility dedicated to the nearly extinct, most-trafficked mammals: pangolins. He is part of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Pangolin and Small Carnivore Specialist Groups and consults for Wild Africa Fund. When he isn’t teaching children about wildlife or rescuing endangered animals, Dr. Ofua can be found at home with his wife and their own children and his many adopted cats and dogs!

healing nigeria’s wildlife
Nominated by: Joe Grabowski FI'18
Class of 2023 Location Lagos

Through my efforts, hunters and bushmeat sellers are aware of the concept of extinction and zoonoses, gradually accepting that wildlife will not constantly be replenished by God and that uncontrolled harvesting is driving extinction. Hunting communities are increasingly involved in conservation, engaging in alternative income-generating activities and encouraging their children to join my Eco-Kids Conservation Club. These children are being raised as heroes for conservation, breaking the vicious cycle of inherited trade and wildlife consumption passed down through generations.

Through awareness-creation and media partnership, people are learning that snakes and nocturnal wildlife needn’t be exterminated. I now get calls to rehome these animals and help people overcome their fears. People are joining conservation efforts, alerting us to rescue needs, sharing awareness. As conservation enthusiasts see change, they are accepting that a cultural shift is possible. Media increasingly report environmental news and people now report wildlife crimes to government authorities!

“People are joining conservation efforts, alerting us to rescue needs, sharing awareness. As conservation enthusiasts see change, they are accepting that a cultural shift is possible.”

- Mark Ofua

Through consistent civil pressure and advocacy, we provoked a strong government response to law enforcement of banned bushmeat, removing endangered species from cuisine and encouraging hunters and sellers to save our disappearing wildlife, a game-changer with less than 50 lions, about 300 gorillas, and severely endangered pangolins, although sadly belated for the functionally extinct cheetahs, rhinos and giraffes. My work with the IUCN helps the international scientific community better understand our fauna.

I started saving wildlife from an early age and my private practice in 2014 to satisfy my passion. I didn’t think of my work as making much of a difference or even noteworthy until 2018, when Katie Schuller’s National Geographic short film featured it. She made me realise the influence and impact one person could make and bolstered my resolve to be the change I desired to see! The poor attitude to conservation in general and almost zero attention to wildlife conservation in Nigeria are gradually changing. My work is producing sustainable results at the grassroots, national and international levels.

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