Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGL) is supporting a five-year research project in the Subim, Ayum, and Bosambepo Forests in the Brong Ahafo Region, aimed at conserving a rare kind of bird called “White-necked Rock fowl”, found mainly in Africa.
The preliminary research, which started in March 2007, would end in February 2011.
It seeks to inform policy makers on how the area could be developed into livelihood opportunities for ecotourism.
The bird whose local Ghanaian name is “Anamea,” was thought to be extinct until it was re-discovered in 2003 in a forest in the Ashanti Region.
Mr Patrick Adjewoda, an Ecologist and the Principal Investigator of the project, disclosed these to GNA in an interview on Monday at Asumura.
He said the knowledge to be gained at the end of the project would be shared with the rest of the world especially other African countries where the bird could be found.
Mr Adjewoda said the initiative would among other things place local communities at the forefront of decision making and judicious management of the forest through a locally based approach.
“There is a new breed of tourists who just like to watch birds and for every bird watcher who travels to Africa, the number one priority is to see the White-necked rock fowl,” he said.
The project is being pursued jointly by Earth Watch Institute in the United Kingdom, Ghana Wildlife Society, Forestry Services Division, the Chiefs and people of Asumura, and some environmentalists with support from Newmont.
Mr. Adjewoda, who also gave a brief background about the bird, said, the white necked rock fowl numbered about 10,000 in the whole world, hence the need to protect those found in few countries in Africa.
He said one major challenge was the slow pace of data gathering on the bird and said the project would serve as a wider conservation purpose apart from protecting the bird.
The bird also known as “Picathartes Gymnocephalus” requires a specific kind of vegetation to live comfortably, he added.
Mr Yaw Antwi Dadzie, External Affair Manager at Newmont, told GNA that the company’s support for the project was part of its efforts to help develop livelihood opportunities through ecotourism, which would protect the rock fowl for community members.
“Newmont is into this project to help develop livelihood opportunities through ecotourism that protects the rock fowl for the community members and work hard to be the most valued and respected mining company through industry leading performance,”
Mr Dadzie explained that as part of the package, Newmont had committed 400,000 dollars in addition to 2,700 man-hours provided by the Newmont staff who had taken the opportunity to undertake a field research under the project.
He said “So far the programme has been impressive, offering the chance for participants from Newmont Ghana to gain considerable experience in conservation.
Mr. Adjewoda said “It has also provided a platform to build the capacity of other staff including Arocha Ghana, Environmentalists from Liberia and the Wildlife of the Division of the Forestry Commission.”