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15.08.2004 Regional News

Probe Wildlife staff for aiding poachers - Chief

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Abutia (V/R), Aug 15, GNA - The Chief of Abutia-Kloe, Togbe Kofi Botsyoe, on Saturday called for a probe into the activities of some staff of the Game and Wildlife Division (GWD) who conspire with poachers in the Kalakpa Resource Reserve at Abutia near Ho.

Addressing the maiden Wildlife Durbar of Chiefs, opinion leaders, students and settlements around the reserve at Abutia-Kloe in the Ho District, he said posterity would not forgive the present generation if they allowed a few people to pursue their selfish interests to undermine the purpose, for which the reserve was created.

The durbar, under the theme, "Threatened Wildlife, Bush meat, the Law and You" was aimed at creating awareness among the communities about the importance of observing the wildlife close season.

The close season, which starts from August, is the period hunting of wild life except grass-cutters is prohibited to allow female animals to breed.

Togbe Botsyoe called on the government to review laws, which seek to protect wildlife to make them more punitive to serve as deterrent to would be poachers.

He appealed to government to expedite action on the payment of compensation to landowners for acquiring the land for the reserve.

Mr Frederick Buer, Volta Regional Co-ordinator of the Ghana Wildlife Society (GWS), said hunting for bush meat had become lucrative business with those involved disregarding the observance of the close seasons. He said some of them had even resorted to the use of chemicals and sophisticated weapons for hunting game.

Mr Buer noted that the public perception of wildlife as a free resource irrespective of its conservation status, habitat loss through deforestation, bush fires and other human activities endangered the existence of wildlife.

About 384,000 tons of bush meat worth 350 million dollars was harvested annually in the country involving about 300,000 people.

He called for the promotion of community wildlife resource management and the identification of a sustainable and alternate protein sources to reduce the pressure on wildlife.

Mr Buer said the eco-tourism potential of the reserve when fully exploited could create about 2,000 job opportunities for the youth in the area.

Togbe Ahorney Akliku II, Volta Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), appealed to chiefs, landowners, GWS and the GWD of the Forestry Commission to assist in re-settling squatters from the reserve.