Business News of 2014-04-23

Poaching at Mole Park leaves tourists frustrated

Tourists are becoming increasingly frustrated at the Mole National Park as they hardly set eyes on the many animal species the park used to have -- a situation blamed on killing of the animals by members of nearby communities.
Aside from a virgin forest, most of the mainly foreign tourists who spoke to the B&FT at the park during the Easter holidays were disappointed that they hardly saw any of the over-93 mammal species the park is reputed to have.
Among Mole’s reputed mammal population are elephants, hippos, buffalo, and warthogs. There was low patronage of services by tourists at the park located at Damongo in the Northern region during the festivities.
The park charges GH¢5.00 and GH¢3.00 for adults and children respectively, while foreigners pay GH¢10.00 before entering the park.
One has to pay another GH¢5.00 and GH¢3.00 as an adult and child while the foreigners pay GH¢10 for a two-hour safari walk into the park to observe the animals.
One can walk for about three to six kilometres without seeing the different species of animals that used to crisscross roads in the park.
Covering an about-4,840 km area, Mole was set aside as wildlife refuge in 1958. In 1971 the small human population of the area was relocated and the lands were designated a national park.
The park has not seen any major development as a tourist location since its original designation. The park as a protective area is underfunded and national and international concerns exist about poaching and sustainability there, but its protection of important resident antelope species has improved since its initial founding as a preserve.
Tree species of the park include Burkea africana, Isoberlinia doka, and Terminalia macroptera. The savanna grasses are somewhat low in diversity but known species include spikesedge, Kyllinga echinata, an Aneilema, Aneilema setiferum var. pallidiciliatum, and two endemic members of the Asclepiadaceae subfamily, the vine Gongronema obscurum, and the edible geophyte Raphionacme vignei.
The park is home to over 93 mammal species, and the large mammals of the park include an elephant population, hippos, buffalo, and warthogs.
The park is considered a primary African preserve for antelope species including kob, Defassa waterbuck, roan, hartebeest, oribi, bushbuck and two duikers, the red duiker and yellow-backed Duiker. Olive baboons, black-and-white colobus monkeys, the green vervet and patas monkeys are known species of monkeys resident in the park.
Of the 33 known species of reptiles, slender-snouted and dwarf crocodiles are found in the park. Sightings of hyenas, lions and leopards are unusual, but these carnivores were once more common in the park.
Among the 344 listed bird species are the Marshal eagle, the white-headed and palm-nut vultures, saddle-billed storks, herons, egrets, the Abyssinian roller, the violet turaco, various shrikes and the red-throated bee-eater.
Mole National Park, like other Ghanaian game preserves, is poorly funded for prevention of poaching. Poachers tend to live within 50 km of the boundaries of the park. This distance of 50 km is the reported greatest distance hunters are willing to travel with poached game.
The remnant human population of the park was removed in 1961, leaving all game-hunters outside the reserve -- meaning that mammal populations on the edges of the park are impacted more by hunting than interior populations.
Source: B&FT
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