Blog from the Field
 

Achimota Community Training on Reusing Plastic Waste 

Núria Badiella - Research and Education Coordinator 

Achimota Old Anglican School, Accra

On August 25th this year, My City My Forest events ended awarding a small prize for each participating community.  Since then, the Achimota Community invested their funds in community training on plastic waste management.  McKingtorch Creatives has already delivered two training sessions to the participants; the first one on the theorical side of waste management, fundraising and storytelling, and the second one practical on reusing plastic waste. 

I find the beauty of this community project on its start.  Two weeks after our My City My Forest events came to an end, the Achimota Community was ready to start their small waste management project.  They shared with us a proposal with many ideas of what we did previously in one of our plastic waste workshops led by McKingtorch Creatives.


Thinking the idea was another person’s project and that we should seek permission from him, I went to meet the Achimota Secretary to the traditional authority Chief and explained my concern. With the big surprise that they had already spoken to the CEO of McKingtorch Creatives and accorded a workplan and a budget for the project to happen. I then realised about the importance of empowering the communities in environmental practices, networking, and developing a sense of community group. 

The Achimota project will also build a waste segregation space in the community in order to get supply of raw materials to give them a second life while keeping the community environment clean. I wish them all the best in this beautiful venture.

 

WAPCA's Endangered Primate Breeding Centre as an Example of an ex situ Conservation Method

Núria Badiella - Research and Education Coordinator 

WAPCA'S Endangered Primate Breeding Centre, Accra Zoo

Final-year students studying Animal Biology and Conservation Science at The University of Ghana wanted to understand the practical work behind an ex-situ conservation project, so they visited WAPCA’s Endangered Primate Breeding Centre in the Accra Zoo. 

Captive breeding is a method of conservation, where species are managed outside of their natural habitat.  The breeding aspect aims to increase the genetic diversity of a species, by pairing unrelated individuals together in order to strengthen the health of future generations and therefore creating a larger family tree.   The practical side of breeding is supported by extensive scientific research and conservation education.  

 

WAPCA was delighted to discuss the insights of housing a captive population of Endangered white-naped mangabeys (Cercocebus lunulatus) with the students.  They now understand the importance of well-housed animals and animal welfare in captive environments, the importance of the genetic diversity within the captive population, and how ex situ conservation strategies are always dependant on the conservation status of the particular species.

 

WAPCA encourages them to actively contribute in the research sector and also the education of other Ghanaian citizens, to aim for sustainable living practices that help conserve the few natural habitats and wildlife that remain in the country.

 

Wildlife Observations in Achimota Forest Reserve

Genet

Núria Badiella - Research and Education Coordinator 

Achimota Forest Reserve, Accra

The Achimota Forest Reserve is the only patch of natural forest left in capital city of Ghana, Accra.  It is a small and disturbed forest area of 360 ha, but yet many species are still surviving in this isolated forest patch.  Recently, while working, I drove up to the Endangered Primate Breeding Centre, and found the Accra Zoo keepers on the main road, they were trying to rescue a genet (Genetta spp.) that fell into a deep hole!  I never knew such animal would still remain in this forest.  Achimota Reserve has beautiful surprises!  

Genets are carnivores, but are opportunists, so they can eat any available prey.  Their diet consist of small mammals, birds and their eggs, frogs, millipeds, scropions and various fruits among others.  They are small mammals with an enlarged muzzle, long spotted body and striped tail.  They are secretive and night-active and travel along the ground, but are also excellent climbers, which they take advantage when hunting and for shelter.   There are around 14 species of genet in Africa, six of which are apparent residents in Ghana.

 

Come and enjoy the beauty of the Achimota Forest Reserve! 

 

Coconut Processing Centre and Green Value Chain

David Osei - In situ Projects Coordinator 

Achimota Forest Reserve, Accra

Conservation initiatives are an important tool for community and rural development.  They also provide opportunities for rural communities through a comprehensive and sustainable

livelihood empowerment programme with careful planning prior to implementation.  

Livelihood programmes should be inclusive, meaning offering both men and women the means and opportunities to improve their income  

and thus lift themselves out of poverty and taking their families and communities along with them.  

In WAPCA's study sites, many young men are illegal offenders because they harvest lumber, either without a chainsaw permit or lumber permit. These young men can be incorporated into livelihood projects in order to gain a more sustainable living.  

As part of the livelihood empowerment, WAPCA is working together with Ankasa Tano Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) to develop a Green Value Chain (GVC) for coconut, which is the most abundant resource in the project area.  To implement this GVC, WAPCA has linked the CREMA with a private sector company called Savannah Fruits Company (SFC) who are already producing organic coconut oil in their processing centre near a WAPCA project site.  

In addition to the organic certification and the payment or organic premium, the private company will also contribute to conservation which will be used to fund conservation activities within the CREMA.  In order to manage this fund, the establishment of a Coconut Development Committee has been initiated and a steering committee has been put in place to draft a constitution for the Committee.  To achieve full potential of the GVC, WAPCA is building processing centres in the communities that will be owned by the CREMA, with the help of CEPF and Sofi Tucker Foundation.  The first WAPCA organic coconut oil processing centre will be opened in March 2020.

 

The Yellow Man

Foster Poasangma - Ex situ Projects Coordinator 

Achimota Forest Reserve, Accra

“What a cute monkey” and “you are looking so beautiful” were some of the countless comments from visitors or tourists about a young male white-naped mangabey at Accra Zoological Gardens.  The Endangered Primate Breeding Centre is located in the zoo, within the heart of Achimota forest.  

 

Yellow was handed over to community resource patrol members, in August 2019, by a farmer in Kwabre, a community in the western region of Ghana, where white-naped mangabeys are naturally found.  The monkey was separated from his family and the farmer took him in to look after him.  The monkey was named Yellow after the farmer.  

I remember the day Yellow was brought in to the EPBC by David, our in situ project co-ordinator.  When Yellow was let out of the transport cage, he timidly climbed onto me.  We estimated that he was about 6 months old.  Everyone at the zoo was so sad to see him being so young and without his mother.  From that day, I became his mother.  

 

Yellow was first housed alone but had contact with a group of other white-naped mangabeys through mesh fencing.  Despite losing his biological parents, which naturally would have impacted his behavioural and social development, he successfully acclimatised to the centre.  After around a month, we began to integrate him with the females in the group next to him through a series of introductions for differing durations.  Slowly, he was also introduced the males.  The alpha male, Ape, is in charge of the group.

 

Yellow recognises me well, both screaming and running towards me when he sees me coming near his fence.  I have become very interested in Yellow and he is my favourite monkey at the centre.  One behaviour that Yellow has acquired is sucking his right thumb, which may be linked to losing his biological mother at such a young age.  Apart from this, he is a curious and adventurous monkey who loves participating in enrichment items that are offered to the monkeys at the centre.

 

Blog from the UK Office!

Annette Gunn - UK Office Intern 

Paradise Wildlife Park/ Zoological Society of Hertfordshire, UK

I have been an intern in the new WAPCA UK office since October 2019.  The office is based at Paradise Wildlife Park/ Zoological Society of Hertfordshire, where I used to work during my career as a zookeeper, so I already knew my way around!

 

My relationship with Ghana began when I volunteered for two months as a zookeeper consultant in 2017, to assist the zookeepers in husbandry and welfare activities at Kumasi Zoo.  Due to this experience in Ghana, it meant that I had already visited both Kumasi and Accra zoos, met the staff and learned about WAPCA’s in- and ex situ conservation efforts and learned about Ghana’s way of life - all which makes my office-based role far easier to grasp here in the UK!

Andrea keeps me very busy in the office doing a variety of exciting tasks!  My first job was to update the website and I have since maintained its content.  I am also running the social media content for the new Twitter and Instagram accounts, so that we have further platforms to share WAPCA’s many developments and achievements!  This also involves recording social media analytics to determine our networking presence and how we can expand on it over time.

 

I have been able to use my creativity, by producing posters, infographics and event invitations and making identification badges for the patrollers in community managed reserves.  I have also been writing reports and fundraising proposals in order to hopefully gain grants for WAPCA to continue its work and I keep in frequent contact with the staff and volunteers over in Accra.

 

The greatest task is for me to create a primate management course for the keepers in Accra and Kumasi Zoos.  It is designed to give them a deeper understanding into primate species’ biology and anatomy, nutrition, captive husbandry and threats and conservation efforts.  The aim is to increase their knowledge and motivation for keeping and preserving primates, particularly for West African species that are held in these zoos.

 

Although I have not long been an intern here, I have managed to do rather a lot and hopefully make some long-term differences to WAPCA’s output.  I look forward to seeing WAPCA grow in 2020!