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19.04.2006 General News

White-Necked Picathartes to be conserved

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The Ghana Wildlife Society (GWS), an environmental nongovernmental organisation, on Tuesday received financial support of 22,000 Pounds (about 350 million cedis) from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), a United Kingdom, charity organisation, to conserve birds.

The project to take two years would cover the white-necked Picathartes, which is globally threatened and are restricted to the Upper Guinea Forest, extending from Liberia to Ghana.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency after the presentation, Dr Erasmus Owusu, Acting Executive Director of the Society, explained that the project primarily aimed at monitoring population and breeding activities of the species in obtaining a realistic population estimate and other bio-parameters.

The project, he noted, would be undertaken in four forest reserves - the Nkrabea, Nyame Ben, Onuem Bepo and Fum Headwaters Forest Reserves in the New Edubiase area in the Ashanti Region Dr Owusu said the project would be implemented under the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ghana Wildlife Society and the Forestry Commission.

Explaining why the bird species was to be protected Dr Owusu said they were seen in Ghana in 1963 and were rediscovered in 2003. He said as a result, a National Action Plan was developed in January 2004, which proposed a nationwide survey to identify nesting of the species, adding that the project area was consequently identified as a major nesting site, following which the Society initiated the development of the project with the Royal Society. Mr Augustus Asamoah, Project Coordinator, outlined the specific activities of the project to include field search that would identify more nesting sites, as well as periodic monitoring of breeding activities with the assistance and collaboration of some members of surrounding local communities.

Mr Asamoah said community awareness campaigns to sensitise people on the conservation and projection status of the species would be carried out in fringe communities of the forest reserve. He said it was expected that the project activities would gather the necessary biological and socio-economic information to access much bigger funding for site based conservation of the White-necked Picathartes in Ghana.