Wildlife conservation can be said to be the practice of protecting wild plant and animal species and their habitats. We protect wildlife for many reasons. It is a source of inspiration, it nurtures a sense of wonder, it is integral to the balance of nature as well as it plays an important role in balancing the environment and provides stability to different natural processes of nature.
In Ghana, the ‘Wildlife Division’ is one of the three divisions of the reconstituted Forestry Commission. It began as a branch of the Forestry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture responsible for wildlife issues. In 1965, it became a full-fledged line agency of the Ministry of Forestry known as the Department of Game and Wildlife, which later changed to Wildlife Department after the adoption of the Forestry and Wildlife policy of 1994.
The department moved from the Ministry of Forestry to the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, to the present Ministry of Lands and Forestry. It is responsible for all wildlife in the country and administers 16 Wildlife-Protected Areas, five coastal Ramsar sites and the Accra and Kumasi Zoos respectively. It also assists with the running of 2 community owned wildlife sanctuaries.
Ghana wildlife is rich and diverse, with a large number of mammals, reptiles, insects and marine species to be found across the country’s varied habitats. An animal such as elephant can be spotted in Mole National Park Ghana which is a two-day drive from Accra where elephants live in many remote places.
Monkey sanctuaries are also conserved. Boabeng-Fiema has a good number of habituated monkeys like the ‘colobus monkey’. The sanctuary has a cemetery where the monkeys are buried when they die.
Tafi Atome, which is located in the Volta Region is a traditional sanctuary for monkeys. These monkeys are also quite habituated as creatures of tradition.
Ghana also has a number of excellent locations for bird wildlife to be seen. Helm Field Guides species being a recent release is an option to be sighted. Ghana has an estimated 1,000 species of butterflies combined. It is impossible to select specific places to almost spot butterflies at all times. Forest Butterfly Sanctuary is a beautiful forest reserve for such creatures of specific attraction. Also to merit is the Atewa Forest Reserve.
Hippos however can be seen only at the remote Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary. Hippos stay well hidden when water is abundant. Normally because of the dry season. Above are only a few of the many animals and wildlife Ghana has and preserves in order to promote a sense of purpose in maintaining the gift nature has given us.
Story By: Afenyo Andy (Diploma 1A).