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22.11.2004 Regional News

Church leaders urged to help save wildlife

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Damongo, (N/R), Nov. 22, GNA - The Executive Director of the Wildlife Division of the Ministry of Lands and Forestry, Mr Yaw Ofori-Frimpong, has urged church leaders to work together to secure the future of wildlife in the country.

He said, "wildlife conservation is all about taking care of part of God's creation and the church cannot be left out in ensuring peaceful co-existence between human beings and animals".

Mr Ofori-Frimpong was addressing a meeting of the Ghana Catholic Bishops conference at Damaongo in the West Gonja District recently. He urged the churches to play a leading role in wildlife conservation by providing inputs and supporting the survival of animals. "Christians have accepted drums and other tribal instruments in their worshipping and the same can be done with conservation. Our culture, as a people is heavily hinged on animals, yet the custodians of customs do not show interest in the survival of these animals that are of significance to them", he said.

Mr Ofori-Frimpong noted that, wildlife conservation was a collective responsibility in which every individual must play his or her role and not to see it only a state responsibility. He said the Division, the Ministry of Lands and Forestry and the Forestry Commission would appreciate the involvement of the churches in the management of wildlife.

He said the churches were better positioned to educate people on wildlife issues than any other organizations, explaining that, most of their members are the hunters, bush meat traders and consumers, who could be reached through the pulpits and other church forums. The Wildlife director announced that the informal sector earns about 350 million dollars annually without the government, landowners and farmers benefiting from such earnings.

He said though the trade was informal, it was quite significant to the nation, since the country was losing its wildlife through excessive and unsustainable exploitation.

Mr Ofori-Frimpong said Ghana was striving to make tourism its number one foreign exchange earner and noted that, wildlife was central in enhancing eco-tourism.

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