Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Secrets of Ghana's south western wild

Photo courtesy of
Lying within an undulating landscape in South Western Ghana are pockets of forest reserves that hold many secrets. These forest reserves are the home of many species from land dwellers to arboreal species. Some other species that can be found there include frogs (Kassina cochranae, Phrynobatrachus plicatus, P. alleni and P. calcaratus amongst others), the duikers and those in their family. Whilst the birds wake the forest up at dawn with their sweet melodies, the calls of the tree hyrax and the bushbaby serve as a lullaby at night. However the most fascinating species in the forest may be the primates. These are interesting because they live in such harmony with the other species that is yet to be fully understood by man.

In the wild due to the elusive nature of some of the species, primates are usually detected by the use of indicators rather than direct viewings. One indicator for the Mona/Lowe’s and Spot-nosed monkey is the presence of the White Crested hornbill. Upon hearing its call, you should look out for the primates. Another indicator is the presence of the bushbuck especially under fruiting trees like the ‘Kyenkyen’ and ‘Osoma’. As the monkeys feed in the upper branches, the bushbucks feed on the bits and pieces of food from the Mona monkeys’ diet. This symbiotic relationship demonstrates the delicate balance in the ecosystem showing that taking away a member of the food chain adversely impacts the lifestyle of the other.

Chimpanzees are the closest human relation in the wild. A research conducted recently in the South Western forest patches showed that chimpanzees still exist in these areas. Some of the indicators showing their presence included their nesting sites, footprints, feeding signs and droppings. It is almost impossible to sight any due to low populations. The chimps have an interesting way of making their “bed”. All they need is a forked-branch with some leaves and the bed is ready! They bend the branches together and if it’s not comfortable enough, they pad it with some more leaves. The chimpanzees do not spend much time at each nesting site and so when you locate a nest the chimpanzees are long gone.

The South Western wild has not only interesting animals but also an interesting human history as well. Amongst the places of interest here is an old hunting ground with banana trees which served as food when poachers went hunting. Currently living on the old hunting ground is a community known as Etteso. Though they are in the forest, they have wireless mobile reception. They charge their phones by using dry cells together with copper wires. Thus it shows that is possible for man to live peacefully with the wild.

This exemplifies how humans are able to coexist peacefully with nature. We must realize that it is possible to live in nature without upsetting the delicate balance of the wild. Why is it then that sometimes other people enter an ecosystem and cause such devastation? How do we protect the delicate harmony of nature whilst providing for our needs? By studying the secrets of Ghana’s South Western wild we may hope to understand the graceful balance between humans and their interaction with the ecosystem better. – Jacqueline Sapongma Kumadoh, ARG team member

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