Former Assistant Director in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr

Ukeje, who was with the Monetary Policy Department of CBN, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu State.

He noted that the environments of virtually all the 482 communities in Enugu State has major cattle transit routes in the South East.

He said some communities in the region are already witnessing overgrazing activities.

“The present high drift of herds of cattle from the North as well as neighbouring countries to the South East would further compound the ecological challenge of erosion disturbing the whole of the region.

“Due to overgrazing by cattle, the cover of vegetation would be removed from the land.

“Then, the soil will become exposed and get eroded by the action of strong wind, rainfall etc; since the grass roots is the only natural binders of soil.

“When the grasses are removed, the soil becomes loose and susceptible to the action of wind and water thus creating multiplicity of erosion and aridity of the soil.

“If, these activities continue within the next 10 years the ecology of the region would change and the region would definite become a near-arid region,’’ he said.

Ukeje, who is an Associate Fellow of African Heritage Institution (Afri-Heritage), noted that some states in the northern part was not so dry until the activities of overgrazing of cattle started taking a toll on them.

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According to him, the best option for the country is to reserve its ecological balance.

“Setting up ranches is a modern method of animal husbandry and friendly to the environment,’’ he noted.

NAN recalls that a recent research conducted by Dr Azeez Olaniyan, a  lecturer with the Political Science Department of Ekiti State University, noted that climate change had forced more than five million cattles, out of the 19.7 million, in the country, to shift from the north to the south, especially during the dry season.