Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Is there hope for the Bui Hippos?

Ghana’s quest to secure and sustain the supply of energy for economic development led to the conceptualisation of the Bui Hydro-Power Project as far back as the late 1950s by the First President of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The Bui Hydropower project which is currently under construction on the Black Volta River is expected to generate 400 megawatts on completion. The economic potentials of this project cannot be underestimated. 

Plans to construct the Bui Dam received a lot of media attention both home and abroad. The attention highlighted the negative impacts construction of the Dam will have on biodiversity, and especially considering the fact that the Dam was going to inundate much of Bui National Park, a biologically diverse Protected Area in the savanna woodlands of Northern Region. The conservation community, economic and social commentators as well as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) undertaken subsequent to the project, all reported the devastating current and future implications of eliminating important remnants of savanna woodland in Ghana and the threat to the largest Hippo population in Ghana. Some commentators submitted that ‘The Bui Dam is an even greater environmental disaster than drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge…’.As heated and passionate as discussions on the environmental impacts of the Dam got, plans were far advanced for government to rescind its decision. This certainly has been a clear case of the abuse nature suffers, as a result of man’s quest to advance economic development.

The demise of the Hippo population in Bui and its environs will be an indictment to all Ghanaians. Even more culpable are those of us who claim to be stewards of the environment. We neglected our responsibility to blow the whistle for foul play. We shed our responsibility as stewards of creation for today and tomorrow. A Rocha Ghana is not spared the blame, because we failed to speak for the voiceless and vulnerable hippos. The present conservation situation of the Bui Hippos is an indictment on all of us. That much said, is Ghana not a signatory to the Convention on Biodiversity and many others alike for which we have without compulsion acceded to and obliged ourselves to put environmental conservation at the fore front of our economic development?
On a more positive note, it is good to observe that nature is forgiving in many respects, and it is still possible to salvage and prevent the total demise of the Bui Hippos. Let us start here by asking ourselves some questions and work to find answers that will help us regain some hope for the Bui Hippos.

  1. Is there hope for the Bui Hippos after inundation?
  2. What is going to be the movement patterns of Hippos after inundation?
  3. Are the new areas safe for hippo habituation, in terms of hunting from poachers?
  4. Will the new areas offer preferred feed to the Hippos?
  5. Are communities ready to share their farm produce with the Hippos?
  6. What is government or should I say the Bui Power Authority doing to address the Hippo Conservation issue?
  7. How is government or should I say the Bui Power Authority implementing the Environmental and Social Management Plan, with particular emphasis on the Hippos?
  8. Who is going to ensure the safety of the Hippos when they move outside the ‘Protected’ Bui National Park?
  9. What will be the Status of Bui National Park, will its designation change, what happens after inundation?

There are certainly a lot of questions, much more than I have captured above. Please feel free to add to them.

It is imperative, that as soon as possible we find answers to these questions to enable us take, what I call remedial actions to conserve what might be left of the Bui Hippos after inundation. We all failed when it mattered, but thankfully, we have another opportunity to act when it is critical.
The prospects for salvage is positive are you ready to assist this effort?

Dare to Care for Creation. -Daryl Bosu, ARG Project Manager, Northern Sector


  1. So what's happening since October?

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