THE annual ban on hunting of wild animals commonly known as the “close season”, which begins from August 1 to December 1, every year, has been launched at Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region.
At the launch, the Executive Director of the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, Nana Kofi Adu-Nsiah, called on the public not to patronise the sale of bush meat, dead, alive or smoked, except for grass cutters (Akrantie) during the prohibition period.
The event was on the theme, “Ensuring sustainability of bush meat trade”.
The “close season” is a period of an annual ban on hunting of wildlife throughout the country, which is a regulatory mechanism backed by the Wildlife Conservation Regulations L.I. 685 of 1971 and required that during the four months, that is, from August 1 to December 1, each year, there should be no hunting of any wild animals with the exception of grass cutters.
The essence of the ban during that period is to offer respite for wild animals, such as duikers (okwaduo, dabo, otwe, akogye), royal antelopes, bush pigs, among other endangered species which supply the bulk of bush meat, because it is also during that period that those animals breed.
The reason why grass cutters have been exempted from the “close season” is because a thorough study by conservationists shows that grass cutters are prolific breeders and their inclusion in the ‘close season’ may result in its excessive population with possible negative impact on agricultural production.
However, one needs a licence to hunt grass cutters and this is to monitor and curtail the use of chemicals and other dangerous or unorthodox means to hunt for grass cutters which might have health risk for consumers.
Nana Adu-Nsiah called for co-operation and support of all during the period for the conservation of the country’s wildlife heritage.
He, therefore, appealed to all and sundry, especially the police and traditional rulers, to arrest and prosecute people who would flout the directive.
According to Nana Adu-Nsiah, the non-observance of the “close season” undermined the sustainability and eventual existence of wild animal populations thereby, depriving Ghanaians of valuable resource for development.
He explained that the call on the public not to patronise bush meat during the “close season”, except for the grass cutter, was to make it uneconomical for hunters to hunt for the animals.
Nana Adu-Nsiah stated that the country’s forests were home to many endangered species including 34 plants, 17 animals, 10 birds and five reptiles and also provide shelter and resting areas for many threatened migratory species.
He added that in Ghana, the annual volume of bush meat harvested by hunters was estimated at 384,992 tonnes, worth US$350 million while the total annual bush meat consumption was estimated at 225,287 tonnes valued at US$205,205 million.
Nana Adu-Nsiah, therefore, called for support from all Ghanaians and the necessary political will and commitment to achieve the sustainable management and development of the country’s wildlife resource for the benefit of all.
The Regional Manager in charge of the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions, Mr Charles K. Abaka Haizel, in his welcoming address, called for concerted efforts to reverse the rate of depletion of the country’s wildlife resources.