BUSH FIRE has gutted more than six hectares of the virgin forest which accommodates the Mona monkeys and other species at the Fiema/Buabeng monkey sanctuary in the Nkoranza district of the Brong Ahafo Region.
It took the collective effort of the Fiema/Buabeng fire volunteers and concerned youth of the town to bring the fire under control.
One Isaac Kwasi, a notorious 'wee' smoker has been arrested for starting the fire. He was alleged to have gone to the forest to smoke his 'stuff' which started the bush fire. He admitted setting fire to the sanctuary and mentioned one Kwaku Dagarti from Konkrompe, another village in the area, as the person who sold the 'wee' to him. Dargati was subsequently arrested and handed over to the police together with Kwasi.
Nana Osei Kwadwo, chairman of the volunteer squad, told DAILY GUIDE that but for the fact that most people were in their homes when the fire started and lent their support, the whole sanctuary would have been destroyed.
The Fiema/Buabeng Monkey Sanctuary is an internationally acclaimed sanctuary that accommodates various types of monkeys, reptiles and other endangered animals. Visitors from all over the world had been trooping to the place to enjoy the serene atmosphere and watch the monkeys.
The fees collected by the people of Fiema/Buabeng from visitors to the sanctuary are used to embark on development projects in the area. Foreigners are made to pay in dollars while local holidaymakers pay in Ghana Cedi.
It is a taboo to kill a monkey in the sanctuary and when a monkey is found dead it is buried in a special grave. The monkeys are believed to be the children of a deity called Abujo.
During the evenings, the monkeys come out of the sanctuary and enter homes to eat and drink from the bowls and pots of the people. It is a common thing to see a monkey stretching out its hand to greet a visitor to the sanctuary.
Mysteriously, anytime an elder of the town is about to die, the monkeys would come to town and wail like human beings. During the Nkoranza North bye-election, the monkeys were sometimes seen gathered at the town's football park with their leaders standing before them and acting as if they were also having a rally.
When DAILY GUIDE visited the town a serious search was going on to find out if there were any dead monkeys in the forest in order to give them a befitting burial.[
i]From Eric Bawah, Fiema