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Wildlife in the Forests

There are many factors that threaten wildlife in the forests of West Africa, including the destruction and degradation of habitats such as pristine rainforest by farming, bushfires and logging. Furthermore, poaching with traps and guns for “bushmeat” has become the main contributor towards the decline of primate species and other wildlife. Both illegal and legal logging activities often facilitate a chain of events. Operators leave behind broad trails along which the logs are extracted from the forest. These new tracks make previously untouched areas of the rainforest accessible. Poachers can then use them to enter deep into the forest and to transport their catch back to the main roads where they can easily be linked to the bushmeat markets of local towns and even onto major cities. Almost all animal species are targeted by hunters, though there is a focus on duikers, antelopes, porcupines, grasscutters and pangolins. Monkeys are regarded as a particular delicacy and they are hunted whenever possible. Thus, the forest areas that have been exploited to satisfy the high demand for bushmeat, are now being left virtually empty of large and medium sized animals. Experts estimate that more than a million tons of bushmeat are being consumed every year in Africa! When the animals are killed for meat their offspring are often taken live and sold at local markets. These “pets” are being kept illegally and most of them suffer terrible conditions, often secured at the end of a chain for the rest of their short lives. Due to the threat of further animals and/or plant species becoming extinct the World Conservation Union (IUCN) has idenitfied the biodiversity of the Upper Guinean Forest in West Africa as a one of the highest priorities for protection.


Threatened Primates of the Upper Guinean Forest

The Eastern part of the Upper Guinean Forest provides habitat for some of the world’s most endangered primate species, including the White-naped Mangabey (Cercocebus atys lunulatus) and the Roloway Monkey (Cercopithecus diana roloway), a sub-species of the Diana Monkey. These primate species are endemic to the rainforest areas of Ghana and Ivory Coast, they cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Another species that was known to occur in the same area is the Miss Waldron’s Red Colobus (Procolobus badius waldroni). In September 2000 this species was officially declared extinct by scientists with no living evidence having been recorded since the early 70’s. This makes the Miss Waldron’s Red Colobus the first primate species to go extinct due to human activity, within the last 100 years. Even if the existence of a few individuals in some remote forest areas is assumed there is almost certainly no viable population of this species left.