Albert Futukpor, GNA
Mole (S/R), March 18, GNA - The Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission has begun an exercise to count all animals in the Mole National Park as part of efforts to update the population of key species of wild animals in the Park.
The exercise, dubbed "Mole Park Census" has become necessary to allow the Management of the Park to assess the current population of key species of wildlife to facilitate a review and update of the Park's Management Plan.
This will enable the Forestry Commission to meet one of the major requirements to proceed with an application to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to consider listing the Mole National Park, which is in the West Gonja District of the Savannah Region, as a World Heritage Site.
The process for the wildlife census began in February with the training of staff of the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission on aerial wildlife count amongst other techniques, while the counting of animals in the Park began on Monday, March 18, and will end by the end of this month while the report on the number of animals in the Park will be ready by the end of August.
Cameras were fixed in the forest to take photos of animals including; aerial wildlife counts using low-flying helicopter to among other techniques count all the animals in the Park.
Bushskies Aerial Photography, a Namibian company, in partnership with Namibia University of Science and Technology is undertaking the exercise with funding support from the European Union and the Forestry Commission.
The last time animal census was conducted in the Park was in 2006.
Mr John Allotey, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, who gave details of the exercise at a News conference at Mole on Monday, said listing the Park as a UNESCO Heritage Site would offer enormous benefits to the country hence the efforts to meet the requirements.
Mr Allotey said "Since its establishment, it had remained a major tourism destination since it was the only place wildlife could easily be viewed in large numbers and at close range. "
The Mole National Park, established in 1958, is about 4,575 kilometres squared, and attracts about 17,000 tourists annually.
The Park boasts of 90 different species of mammals, 300 species of birds, nine amphibians, 30 reptiles, and about 56 endemic butterfly species.
Mr Allotey expressed gratitude to the European Union for the assistance to enable the Park qualify for listing as World Heritage Site.
Mr Roberto Schiliro, Team Leader, Infrastructure and Sustainable Development, European Union, said the animal census and staff training at Mole Park would contribute to a clear position and strategy definition for the conservation and management of the Park.
He said "Therefore, the European Union considers that this small project can be the kick of a major sustainable strategy for the preservation of the wildlife of Ghana. "
Mr Saeed Muhazu, District Chief Executive for West Gonja was hopeful that the exercise would help to further boost the tourism potential of the area.