European Union supports Mole National Park

By Albert Futukpor

Mole (S/R), Nov 23, GNA – The European Union (EU) has handed over some key facilities and equipment to the Mole National Park to enable its rangers to effectively fight against poaching and preserve the wildlife.

They included a ranger camp site located at Grupe within the Park to accommodate rangers, a four-wheel vehicle, tents, bags, communication equipment, staff combat uniforms, raincoats, patrol headlamp, and commemorative plaque amongst others.

The EU’s gesture is in furtherance of the implementation of the Savanna Integrated Biodiversity Conservation Initiative (SIBCI), and the CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKES) projects, which are funded by the EU.

The SIBCI project, initiated by the Ghana Wildlife Society and partners, seeks to support the implementation of sustainable management of the Mole National Park, while the CITES MIKES project monitors trends in levels of illegal killing of elephants and build capacity in protected areas spread across the range.

Mr Irchard Razaaly, EU Ambassador to Ghana, who visited the Mole National Park, and the ranger camp site to hand over the equipment as well as inaugurate the camp site in the West Gonja Municipality of the Savannah Region, said the gesture was to promote and improve the livelihoods of communities surrounding the Park.

He expressed delight that the SIBCI, and CITES MIKES projects were helping to preserve the Mole National Park for future generations, and the livelihoods of the people in the area.

The Mole National Park is the largest protected area in the country with a size of 4,577km2 and the most prestigious of all the National Parks in the country.

The Park, which is one of the prime sites for biodiversity conservation in the country, was established in the late 1950s as a wildlife reserve and gazetted as a National Park in 1971.

It is endowed with various species of animals such as the elephant, buffalo, roan antelope, leopard, kob and warthog, among others.

However, the Park is surrounded by over 33 communities, and the communities’ dependence on the wildlife resource without replenishing to meet socio-economic needs, has gradually led to significant decline of the resources in the area hence the projects and the EU’s support to the Park to stem the tide.

Mr Iddrisu Musah, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Forestry Commission, said the support from the EU had been timely and helpful in stemming the precipitous decline in the protection of the natural resources and providing much needed respite for communities in terms of livelihood options.

Mr Musah said, “The EU’s support for the management of the Mole National Park and its neighbouring areas through innovative projects such as the MIKE project and the SIBCI project have ensured that protected areas like Mole National Park and the unique array of biodiversity that they contain can continue to thrive, now and in future.”

He called on all stakeholders to continue to support efforts at conserving the Park, and urged the Park Authority to continue to work with partners to scale up the development of the Park and ensure it became a beacon that could catalyse great socio-economic development for the neighbouring communities, districts and the nation as a whole.

Mr Richard Appoh, Director of Conservation Programmes, Ghana Wildlife Society, said to further integrate conservation into farming practices, the SIBCI project distributed 4,200 improved mango seedlings to farmers, thus encouraging the incorporation of sustainable agricultural practices into their farming systems.

He said the project had also trained 30 law enforcement officers to combat the threats of poaching and illegal activities within the Park.

Mr Karim Musah Kusubari, West Gonja Municipal Chief Executive, expressed gratitude to the EU for supporting the projects in the area, and said they meant a lot for the people and communities in the area.

A representative of the Overlord of the Gonja Traditional Area thanked the partners for the projects and assured them of the traditional authority’s commitment for the success of the projects.

Mr Razaaly later inspected a viewing tower constructed under the SIBCI project to help in both ecotourism and Park surveillance.

He again visited the Murugu community in the area to interact with the 300 women trained in sustainable shea picking and processing as part of the project, as well as inspected their shea processing facility.