World Wildlife Day is one of the significant annual events celebrated globally since 2013, when the Secretariat of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) through the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed March 3, of every year as so. It is a day to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora to raise awareness on the multitude of benefits that its conservation provides for mankind and their contributions to the cultural and socio-economic development of nations.
This year’s theme “Recovering Key Species for Ecosystem Restoration”, is to draw attention to the conservation status of some of the most critically endangered species of wild fauna and flora, and to drive discussions towards imagining and implementing solutions to conserve them. Significantly, wildlife species provide food, cloth, medicine and homes, as they help meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (1) No poverty, (2) Zero hunger, (14) Life under water and (15) Life on land. Without them habitats and ecosystems are in peril.
The mandate of the Wildlife Division (WD) of the Forestry Commission is to protect these vast areas or ecosystems in the country. Over the years, the Wildlife Division, has made conscious efforts to protect and conserve the ecosystems as well as the key wildlife species existing in the 21 Wildlife Protected Areas, which include 7 National Parks, 6 Resource Reserve, 2 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 1 Strict Nature Reserve, 5 Coastal Wetlands and 2 Zoos (Accra and Kumasi) of about 5.6% or 1.3 million ha of Ghana’s total landed area.
Even though most of our fauna and flora have been wantonly destroyed through irresponsible mining, illegal chainsaw operations, encroachment, indiscriminate land use, deforestation, bushfires, agriculture and infrastructure developments, the Division continues to work assiduously to protect and conserve them. Wildlife Division operations including Law Enforcement, Conservation Education, Ecotourism and Livelihood interventions in fringe communities, have significantly helped in addressing SDGs (1)No poverty, (2) Zero hunger, (14) Life under water and (15) Life on land.
It has also reinforced the protection of key species like the African elephants, leopards, bongo antelopes, pangolins, black and white colobus and others in the wildlife protected areas.
The Mission Statement of the Wildlife Division is to work collaboratively and effectively with others to ensure the sustainable management and development of Ghana’s wildlife habitats, so as to optimise their contribution to socio-economic development. We therefore, call on all stakeholders and the general public to support the Division in recovering these key wildlife species to appreciable levels for our ecosystems restoration.
Teachers, the Judiciary, media persons, hunters, practitioners of wildlife enterprises and all stakeholders in the wildlife development equation should join hands to ensure effective wildlife conservation for the benefits of current and future generations.