Environmentalists have expressed outrage after a video emerged of a group of youth using ropes to drag an endangered manatee along a dusty road in Nigeria.
In a tweet, Blue Planet Society said it was shocking that a “supposedly protected West African manatee can be abused in such a public way”:
It is unclear when or where the video was shot, but Nigeria’s deputy environment minister, Sharon Ikeazor, said the incident took place in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.
“My attention has been drawn to a very distressing & distasteful video of a captured manatee in the Niger Delta Region being dragged on bare ground to a cruel fate by some ill informed/uninformed youth. I strongly condemn this act,” she said on Twitter on Sunday.
Ms Ikeazor added that she had ordered officials to carry out an investigation and try and rescue the manatee and return it to its natural habitat.
The hunting of manatees is illegal in Nigeria but they are still killed for their meat, oil and organs, used in traditional medicine, AFP news agency reports.
It quotes the International Union for Conservation of Nature as saying there are about 10,000 manatees along the West Africa coast.
Many people in the Niger Delta are poor, despite the region’s oil wealth.