LOCATION: Princes Town, Western Ghana
TARGET SPECIES: Roloway monkey (Cercopithecus roloway), White-naped Mangabey (Cercocebus atys), and red colobus monkey (Piliocolobus badius waldronae)

Horwich 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 colobus 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.

Left: Villagers at Adelazo look over a map of Cape Three 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.

Right: 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.

Left: 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.