West African Primate Conservation Action commemorates 10th anniversary
Mr Samuel Afari Dartey, Chief Executive Office of the Forestry Commission, has expressed concern about the lack of active participation of the youth in environmental sustainability.
He said gone were the days when the presence of active wildlife clubs in every educational institution in the country gave the hope of safeguarding the environment, including forests, animals as well as their eco-systems.
Mr Dartey expressed the concern at the commemoration of the 10th Anniversary celebrations of the West African Primate Conservation Action (WAPCA), a Non-governmental Organization in wildlife conservation in Accra on Wednesday.
He called for active involvement of the youth through the revival of Wildlife clubs in every educational institution across the country as a major step towards combating climate change challenges.
“If the youth does not participate in the conservation of our environment, that aspect would suffer in the near future,” he said.
He said the current high state of forest degradation owing to multiple reasons such as mining, farming, bushfires, hunting as well as illegal logging activities, calls for collective efforts to address the challenge.
He said human activities had adversely affected the general eco-system leading to the gradual extinction of some endangered species of animals and called for intensive public education and awareness on the role of each animal in their eco-systems.
WAPCA, which was formed by a group of European Zoo and Conservation Organizations 2001, focuses on the conservation of two highly endangered monkeys, namely the Roloway monkey and the White-naped Mangabey.
According to Mrs Katherine Silenga, Country Coordinator, WAPCA, poaching for “bushmeat” has become the major contributor towards the decline of primate species and other wildlife in Ghana.
“When animals are killed for meat, their off-springs are often taken to be sold illegally as pets. Most of these will suffer terrible conditions, often secured at the end of a chain for the rest of their short lives,” she said.
She said to provide support for these rare species, an Endangered Primate Centre had been established at the Accra Zoo, which was currently located within the Achimota Forest to house for the animals and stressed that the Centre provided a great potential for education and tourism in Ghana.
She said the Centre would link up with other European Endangered Species breeding programmes to ensure high and quality breed of animals.
Mrs Silenga highlighted some achievements and challenges of the organization, stressing on the various support programmes in the form of alternative livelihood projects including snail rearing and bamboo handicrafts as well as the construction of an educational trail and game viewing hide in the Ankasa Conservation area to improve capacity for education and tourism.
She indicated that there had been tremendous collaboration between the Zoos in Ghana and that of European countries and the organization intends to intensify its cross-border collaboration with counterparts in Cote d’Ivoire following initial research in an area of the forest along the border in the south-west of Ghana.
“We also hope to organize comprehensive surveys, community meetings and educational activities in the ensuing year and ensure continued support for developments at the Endangered Primate Centre and Accra Zoo,” she said.
She, however, cited the reintegration of animals from the Zoo into the eco-system as a great challenge, explaining that such animals after staying in confines and fed, found it difficult to hunt for food on their own and also faces danger from other wild animals in the food chain.
Nana Adu Nsiah, Executive Director, Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, congratulated WAPCA for the successes chalked so far and indicated that though public-private partnership in Zoo management was new in Ghana, it had been very successful and hoped the years ahead would be more fruitful.