Conservation of Primates - Ghana

Monkey Hill
Cape 3 Points Forest Reserve
Western Wetlands at the Ivory Coast Border

Roloway Monkey White-naped Mangabey Geoffroy's Black and White

(Left to Right:) Roloway Monkey, White-Naped Mangabey, Geoffroy's Black and White Colobus

CC Began its project in Ghana through an invitation by Mark Fenn of The Coastal Resource Center (CRC) of the University of Rhode Island to act as an advisor to aspects of their coastal management planning that deals with some of the last coastal forests left in Ghana. Horwich had worked with Fenn in Madagascar developing a community reserve south of Tulear in southwestern Madagascar.

An initial visit to three forests in western Ghana by CC Director Horwich in April 2011 began the process. Western Ghana has a number of endemic primates that are found only in Ghana and a few nearby countries. These include the olive colobus (Procolobus verus), Geoffroy’s black and white colobus (Colobus vellosus), the Rolaway monkey (Cercopithecus diana rolaway), the white naped managabey (Cercocebus atys lunulatus), the lesser spot nosed guenon (Cercopithicus petaurista petaurista) and Lowe’s guenon (Cercopithecus campbelli lowei). There is some evidence that Miss Waldron’s red colobus (Procolobus badius waldroni) may not be extinct as previously thought. There are also two nocturnal primates that are probably in the forests as well, the potto (Perodicticus potto) and the Demidoff’s bush baby (Galagoides demidoff).

Monkey Hill, Takoradi

Ghana-MonkeyHillWorking with CRC and its partner, Friends of the Nation, Horwich’s first program was to visit Monkey Hill and come up with some ideas about helping to turn Monkey Hill, a forest within the city, into a tourist attraction. It has a number of facilities including a hotel and restaurant that are now owned by Vodaphone that has recently taken ownership of some of the area. Horwich met with members of Friends of the Nation and some community members of New Takoradi. With their help he observed the forest its primates and other aspects of the forest. It is a nice forest but some residents use it as a garbage dump and latrine. Some initial suggestions are to involve the New Takoradi school children to begin to clean up the forest and to work with civil authorities and Vodaphone to create a better garbage collection system within and surrounding the park and to install some composting toilets around the periphery of Monkey Hill. Additionally, some low cost educational trails could be easily set up for tourists and local use. A guide system similar to that used by the Community Baboon Sanctuary could help create some income for local guides.

Cape 3 Points Forest Reserve

Ghana-Cape3PtsHorwich initiated CC's first project in Ghana at the Cape 3 Points Reserve Forest. Cape 3 Points' 5000 hectares is the last remaining coastal forest in Ghana. Although there has been some logging, the main problem for primates has been in hunting for the bush meat trade that has reduced the primate populations considerably and made the monkeys shy and hard to see.

The forest was home to a dwindling population of two endangered colubus monkeys endemic to West Africa. The area that includes western Ghana and easter Ivory Coast is also a region of secondary endemism. These forests were inhabited by the three unique subspecies: the roloway monkey, distinguished by a white beard; the white-naped mangabey, which has a white nape in addition to other distinguishing coat patterns; and Ms. Waldron's red colobus monkey, thought to be extinct.

There is a small tourism industry in the area involving mainly European tourists who come to see the forest, a waterfall, the beaches the lagoons and some architectural buildings that include the lighthouse in Cape 3 Points and a German castle built in the 1600’s in Princesstown.

In 2011, Horwich, accompanied by local villagers visited all of the villages around Cape 3 Points Forest Reserve to show them relevant examples of community conservation projects in Belize and India with a question period to find out about the needs of the villagers. Horwich also explained how unique their forest and wildlife are and asked for their help in protecting it. Following these village meetings, CRC organized a general community meeting inviting 2 members from each village. There, the villagers discussed the successes and failures of some of the Ghana laws that involve community management of natural resources. What evolved from the meeting was how the communities were willing to help protect the forest but they wanted help in developing their livelihoods.

Cape 3 Points Villager Meeting

Above: Villagers at Adelazo look over a map of Cape 3 Points Forest Reserve

The interest of the communities in helping protect their forest led to a general meeting of all of the communities surrounding the forest. They pledged that, given the opportunity, they would protect the forest. Other discussion followed about training in alternative livelihoods such as tourism, soap-making, beekeeping, a village restaurant, and farming other sources of meat such as cane rat, a local giant snail, or chickens to provide protein for the villagers.


Above: Cape 3 Points CREMA meeting in 2011 with WAPCA's Jeanne Marie Pittman in attendance

During that trip, Horwich also made contact with a partner of CRC, West African Primate Conservation Action (WAPCA), a regional NGO that is supported by and composed of a number of European Zoos. He met the new director, Jeanne Marie Pittman, whom he had met previously from his work with cranes, and DAvid Osei, WAPCA's field coordinator, and formed a partnership to work together on the Cape 3 Points project and as well as protecting primates in the additional Tanoe Peat swamp forests with CRC.

WAPCA's staff is on a steering committee for Cape 3 Points to help with the primates. WAPCA, with the Wildlife Division of Ghana, are additionally searching un-surveyed forests to find new populations of primates in Ghana. One are that they are finding an abundance of primates is in a long wetlands extending along the border of Ivory Coast where there is an adjacent wetland swamp with primates as well. This wetland is part of a number of Chiefdoms that may provide an opportunity to create a community reserve if the Chiefs and communities will agree to work with us.

In a follow up visit, Horwich  and members of West African Primate Conservation Action and Coastal Resources Center met with the local community group (the Cape 3 Points CREMA) to discuss the status of the CREMA and what they have been doing  for the past year.  CREMA stands for Community Resource Management Areas.  It was introduced into Ghana law in the early 2000s to encourage local communities to participate in forest sand wildlife conservation.  The meeting discussed future plans which will include initiating a community protection plan for the Cape 3 Points Forests Reserve. The plan is to create small  camps around the reserve that will be used by community villagers as bases to patrol the Forest Reserve on a continuous basis.

The CREMA  consists of three inland ecosystems as well as the marine beaches and ecosystems.  These include two wetland areas on the east and west side of the Reserve Forests and the Reserve Forest. After more meetings in 2012, villagers who were part of a revived CREMA under the leadership of Rolan Acquah decided to appoint community monitoring teams of four patrollers from each village, begin setting up camps and begin a patrolling protection system. It was decided that the forest protectors would work together and share the salaries on a round robin basis so only one person per group would received a daily salary each patrol day Camps were made at selected areas so the teams of patrollers could share lunches together. The diagram below shows the plan with red dots as villages and black dots as camps from which each group would patrol the adjacent section of the forest.

Cape3Points Patrol Map

Above: Diagram of planned camps for patrolling Cape 3 Points Reserve Forest (red dots indicate participating villages, black dots indicate patrol camps and lines within the forest indicate patrol areas for each camp)

The CREMA already has one problem. There is illegal gold mining within the reserve that uses mercury as a coagulant for gold particles. Mercury can cause serious neural and health problems. The mining in pits and in the river will cause the mercury to reach both surface and ground water which is used by the surrounding villages. While we were there, Roland Acquah, President of the Cape 3 Points CREMA, presented the problem to members of the regional assembly.

Tens of thousands of these small sites are springing up in Latin America, Asia, and Africa using a thousand tons of mercury each year. The environmental problem is a serious one becuase the process uses mercury to coagulate the gold. Mercury in the situations we viewed will eventually pollute the surface and ground waters that are used by the nearby villages for drinking and will also affect the fish populations. Mercury poisoning can lead to serious neurological problems and eventual death.


Western Tanoe Peat-Swamp Forests Along the Ivory Coast Border

Much of the forests and their primates are disappearing fast in Ghana. Forests are being replaced with rubber and palm oil plantations. While Cape 3 Points is the last coastal forest, most of the remaining forests that are not protected are found in the wetlands along the Ivory Coast and Amanzuri wetlands that remain from past geological history. These wetland forests are the last natural forests left because they have been more difficult to clear. However, even these are now under attack by illegal log cutters.

Illegal Loggers Illegally Cut Logs

Above Left: WAPCA's David Osei (left) and Victor Agyemang Duah (right) of Ghana Wildlife Department confront illegal loggers

Above Right: Osei and Duah view timber illegally cut

CC and WAPCA received a grant from the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation to begin a survey of these western swamp forests to see what primate species are there.  A preliminary survey indicated sightings of the roloway monkey, a subspecies of the Diana monkey that is disappearing from its range within western Ghana and eastern Ivory Coast.

CC Director, Horwich,  returned from a trip to these areas in early 2012.  There, he worked with outgoing WAPCA Director Kathy Silenga and her replacement Jeanne Marie Pittman and
David Osei, WAPCA’s Field Coordinator, initiating contacts with the Chiefs and communities in those  swamp forests that border the Tanoé River, the border between Ivory Coast and Ghana. They traveled a great deal to contact the Chiefs and arrange meetings with them and the villagers.  They were also assisted by Victor Agyemang Duah of the Wildlife Division. Osei and Horwich made oral presentations similar to presentations to the villages around the Cape 3 Points Reserve Forest, the previous year. Horwich told stories about Belize, whose culture showed some similarities to Ghana since the inhabitants were descendents of slaves from West Africa, and Assam, India, whose community protection methods could be used in Ghana.  Then they discussed the situation of the wetland forests along the Tanoé River. Usually they collectively addressed the Chiefs and their council members and the community members.

They additionally traveled with Drs. Inza Kone and André Djaha Koffi of WAPCA and Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire to see a community–based project there that was initiated in 2006. They visited four participating villages meeting with villagers and the Chief when available. They have been protecting the Ehy-Tanoé Forest that has a similar ecosystem and primate community to Western Ghana.  The project had also stopped an oil palm project targeting their forest.   Oil palm plantations have had a major effect on eastern Ivory Coast and consequently on the primates as well.

A final meeting was attended by representatives of most of the Chiefdoms we had visited and some representatives if the Ivory Coast. This meeting that included a powerpoint presentation by Horwich and Osei is the first step in bringing the participating communities together.  We hope it will lead to a community reserve similar to that in the Ivory Coast with the possibility of a transnational community sanctuary in the future.

Since the land ownership in these areas is in the hands of the local Chiefs, Horwich accompanied Osei to meet with the area Chiefs and their councils and committees. Then a large meeting was held at the Half Assini Government Assembly Hall concerning the protection of their forests and monkeys. Many of the village chiefs and the Paramount Chief attended this initial meeting. Presentations were given by Horwich, Osei, and a contigent of participants from Ivory Coast and CRC staff.

Osei Addresses Meeting

Above: David Osei addresses the wetland forest meeting in the Half Assini Government Assembly Hall

Villagers Discuss Project

Above: David Osei, along with Drs. Andres Djaha Koffi and Inza Kone, discuss the Ivory Coast project with villagers.

Forest Map, Ghana

Above: Map of eastern Ivory Coast and western Ghana

WAPCA - Primate Conservation in Action (B) from Hidden Picture Productions on Vimeo.

This film was produced by Hidden Picture Productions for West African Primate Conservation Action (WAPCA). It details the work of WAPCA in preserving endangered species of monkey in the forests of Western Ghana and Eastern Cote d'Ivoire, in particular the white-naped mangabey and the rolloway monkey. Due to deforestation and illegal hunting, these species are threatened with extinction. Funded by a group of European zoos, WAPCA works with government agencies and with communities near forest reserves to try and conserve these fragile populations.