Ghana is a small, overpopulated West African country on the Gulf of Guinea.
Its current population is estimated at 30 millions. Natural areas are extremely limited and the government has no visible proactive conservation policy. The National Parks and other theoretically protected areas are only protected on paper. The few rangers we came across have no real power and are not geared up to fight poaching on an almost institutional level. In fact, it is extremely difficult to observe Mammals and Birds are as shy as Ducks in autumn in France!
In addition, intensive cocoa and palm oil plantations for export and mines of all kinds contribute greatly to deforestation and its consequent erosion of biodiversity.
Nevertheless, what remains of Ghana's biological diversity, and especially its Birds and Butterflies, is outstanding. Indeed, the South of the country is part of one of the richest ecosystems on the planet, the Guinean forest of West Africa. The north, which is much drier with its savannah trees, brings its own set of completely different species. We were able to observe 350 species of Birds during this trip, which is far from being a record in this country which has recorded more than 660 species observed to date.
We were fortunate to travel with an excellent bird guide, Robert Ntakor, who is the first Ghanaian to be fully self-taught in ornithology, without even owning binoculars! He started his career as a ranger and soon developed a passion for the forests he was trying to protect. In his spare time he would walk for hours in the forest and whenever he heard a bird he would follow the song until he found the singer. This is how he memorised a good part of the songs before getting a guide and binoculars. Today, at the age of 50, no song or call escapes him! To ensure continuity, he trained his brothers who are now also experienced bird guides. In short, a forerunner in the country.
Robert also actively promotes the conservation of the little bit of nature left in his country, which earns him a lot of respect! If you want to go birding in Ghana, we can only advise you to go for at least one month, to concentrate on the southern rainforests where birding is sometimes hard and time consuming. The young driver Robert hired, David, is very shy but very friendly and above all, an expert driver. This was his first birding trip and he apparently liked the idea. It is possible to organise a self-drive trip in Ghana by hiring a car but driving is not our strength and there are many speeders in the country so we opted for this way of travelling. Hiring guides is also a way to promote this activity which, of course, has its commercial side, but contributes, on its level, to the protection of biodiversity.
1. Shai Hills and Kalakpa forest
4. Mole national park and Tango Hills
6. Ankasa Conservation Area and Accra botanic garden