Increasing demand for bush meat in homes and chop bars is threatening the survival of many wildlife species in Ghana, Conservation International (CI), an environmental NGO, said on Thursday.
Okyeame Ampadu-Agyei, Country Director of CI, told a press conference in Accra that if the current rate of exploitation by commercial bush meat traders continued, some endangered species in forest regions would become extinct .
He said trading in bush meat has become the most immediate threat to biodiversity conservation.
Market surveys indicated that species that were wholly or partially protected by Ghana's wildlife laws were being traded openly at Kantamanto market in Accra and Atwemonom market in Kumasi, he observed.
Data from market surveys in Kumasi also showed that all species regardless of their conservation status, were hunted and traded openly in the markets.
This, he said, was a clear evidence that the 'closed season' for hunting was not being observed.
The Ghana Wildlife division of the Forestry Commission puts a ban on hunting from August 1 to December 1 every year. This period, known as the 'closed season', is to enable the wildlife to reproduce, wean their young ones and prepare them for maturation.
Okyeame Ampadu-Agyei said the annual estimate of bush meat sold in the country stands at about 384,000 metric tons valued at 350 million dollars.