The Forestry Commission (FC) has contracted the services of a Namibian company, Bush Skies Aerial Photography, to scientifically document the wildlife status of the Mole National Park.
The company has carried out an aerial survey of the wildlife, conducted wildlife counts and used ground transects to enumerate and document the wildlife status of the park.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FC, Mr Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie, who disclosed this last Friday, said the last animal census in the park was conducted in 2006, for which reason there was an urgent need to update information on the population of wildlife species at the park to allow for a review of its management plan.
“This will help Ghana proceed with an application to UNESCO to consider the Mole National Park as a World Heritage Site and also boost its ecotourism potential,” he said.
He said preliminary wildlife information indicated that the population of many key species of wildlife was thriving, including an estimated 2,181 elephants, 31,842 kobs, 4,810 hartebeest, 7,103 roan antelopes and 2,462 buffaloes.
“The results of the aerial census are still being analysed and the final report is yet to be submitted to the FC,” he said.
He said Bush Skies would also train 30 members of staff of the FC in the use of modern technology in ecological monitoring.
Addressing the management and staff of the FC at the chief executive’s end-of-year briefing and awards ceremony in Accra, Mr Owusu-Afriyie said: “In 2016, Ghana’s proposal to list the Mole National Park as a World Heritage Site did not materialise. One of the main reasons was that the management plan was outdated and there was no recent assessment of the populations of the wildlife species and habitat.
“In order for Ghana to address these challenges, the commission made a request to the European Union delegation to Ghana to fund a wildlife census at the Mole Park to update the numbers and species of animals,” he explained.
The CEO noted that from 2016 to 2018, the number of visitors to ecotourism sites and zoological gardens (zoos) was 612,000, with revenue of GH¢8.9 million generated.
In terms of visitations to ecotourism sites, he said, the Mole National Park recorded 51,500 over the period.
He indicated that the FC’s timber trade and industry development in Ghana had been strengthened through several reforms and monitoring frameworks.
Such reforms, he said, had enhanced revenue mobilisation for the forestry sub-sector of the economy as far as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) computation was concerned.
“As of the end of September this year, Ghana had exported wood volume of 216,631 metres square, with value of $123 million,” he said.
He added that compared to the same period last year, there was a decline in both volume and value as a result of the ban on the harvest and export of Rosewood.
Mr Owusu-Afriyie said as of the end of September 2019, the Asia/Far East market had received 73 per cent of Ghana’s forestry exports and emerged the largest market, followed by Europe and then Africa, which recorded 15 and 12 per cent respectively.
The leading species trading in those markets included teak, wawa, potrodom and senya, he added.