The Mole National Park in the West Gonja District of the Savannah Region would soon be listed as one of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO’s) World Heritage sites.
This is because the Forestry Commission (FC) has conducted a wildlife census in the park and updated its management plan which is a pre-requisite for the listing.
This was contained in a report on the Mole National Park wildlife census project disclosed to journalists by the F.C. in Accra yesterday.
BushSkies Aerial Photography of Namibia, in collaboration with the University of Namibia and staff of the Mole National Park undertook the wildlife census and ecological monitoring of the park.
In 2015, the commission embarked on a project to get the park listed but was declined on the grounds that the management plan of the park had not been updated since 2006.
Briefing journalists on the report, Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FC, stated that in 2000, the Commission embarked upon a project to get the Mole National Park, the largest park in Ghana, with an area of 4,550km2, and harbouring the most diverse wildlife population in the country, to be listed as one of UNESCO’s Global World Heritage sites.
He, however said that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) evaluation team in 2015, declined to recommend their submission for consideration on the grounds that the management plan of the Mole National Park was outdated, adding that the challenge cost Ghana the privilege of listing Mole National Park as a world heritage site.
Having suffered such a setback, Mr Afriyie said that the FC approached the European Union delegation in Ghana for assistance to carry out the wildlife census in Mole National Park and to update the management plan, which was accepted.
Mr Owusu Afriyie stated that since the establishment of the park in 1971, the FC had carried out only three wildlife censuses.
He said the staff of the Mole National Park of the F.C. were trained in census techniques, data analysis and ecological monitoring to manage the park effectively and provide accurate statistics of the animal species.
The F.C. boss explained that the census carried out would no doubt expose the enormous scientific research and tourism potentials of the Mole National Park that was not known of before.
He said the park was the only place in West Africa where one could view large mammals such as elephants, buffaloes, roan antelopes and hartebeest at close range, and that since 2013, when the access roads were tarred, there had been a steady increase in tourists which has moved up to about 18,000 every year from as low as 10,000 since 2012.
On her part, Mrs Diana Acconcia, the Ambassador of the European Union delegation in Ghana, said the animal census conducted at the park was a combination of different approaches, including aerial monitoring had improved the capacity of the F.C. staff to monitor and count the animals in the park with a cutting edge methodologies.
She said this would be paramount to ensuring the continuous update of data in a sound and scientific approach, thereby allowing the commission to build a strong dossier for a possible listing of the park as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Mole National Park is Ghana’s largest wildlife refuge and is located in the Savannah Region of Ghana on savannah and riparian ecosystems at an elevation of 150m, and covers an estimated 4,577 square kilometres with a sharp escarpment forming the southern boundary of the park.
There are at least 300 species of birds and 94 species of mammals, including 600 elephants, 2,000 roam antelopes, 3,000 hartebeests, 4,000 waterbucks, 5,000 buffaloes, 6,000 warthogs and uncounted baboon lions, leopards, hyenas.
BY SET ADU AGYEI