Farmers at communities along the Kakum National Park in the Central Region have threatened to burn the tropical rainforest if authorities do not prevent elephants from rampaging through their farmlands.
The angry farmers from Nfuom, Aboabo, Obenkrom, Nyamebekyere among other villages in the Lower Denkyira Hemang District of the region have thus issued a four-year ultimatum to management of the park to stop the elephants who have been destroying their farms for decades.
According to them, elephants from the natural forest reserve have for the past two decades, have been raiding their cocoa, yam, plantain and vegetable farms.
The farmers say through the efforts of the management of the park, they have been burning vehicule tyres in a bid to deter elephants from invading their farmlands at night but that appears not to be working.Management of the park says the elephants move about sixty kilometers everyday within the park.
“Why should elephants eat cocoa while humans are hungry? If the Kakum Forest gets ablaze, it is not my fault,” one of the farmers who claimed anonymity told TV3.
Ama Anyinaduah Kuffour on her part said: “We have collaboratively funded this pepper fencing for long…Why should elephants eat cocoa while humans are hungry? My family now eats on credit bases.
I cannot continue investing my loan in preventive measures, so I will keep burning tyres between the forest and my farm as the Game and Wild Life Division has suggested. But if the forest gets ablaze, it is not my fault. I wish I were strong enough to kill elephants, government by now would have arrested me,” she said.
Another victim Yaw Minta claimed soon the elephants will invade their township, noting that three months ago, they came as close as to almost the main road.
He said because the government is not faced with the kind of hardship they find themselves in, it has neglected them.
“How could we invest extra money in deterring elephants? The government says we should do that. If they cannot help us, we should farm the forest or by the year 2020, the forest will be set ablaze,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Park Manager, Enock Ashie, a admitted the claims by the farmers and has advised them to cultivate plants like timber in-between the forest and their farms to serve as buffers so as to secure their farms.
“What we advise is that they take fire precaution measures….with support from World Bank we have also taught them to burn elephant’s coils so the fumes keep them away,” he said.
However, he explained that those are short term measures, noting “it is very difficult to fence the park even if resources are there.
“All that they are pushing for is compensation but it is a national issue. As long as they continue to plant palatable crops there, it will continue to be a challenge,” he added
Spencer Kwabena Boateng Mensah