LOCATION: Ivory Coast, Ghana
Target Habitat: Western Tanoe Peat-Swamp Forests
Much of the forests and their primates are disappearing fast in Ghana. Forests are being replaced with rubber and palm oil plantations. While Cape Three 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.
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.