The Wildlife Division (WD) of the Forestry Commission (FC) has organized a durbar to celebrate the World Wildlife Day 2024, at the Kalakpa Resource Reserve in the Helekpe-Adaklu Traditional Area, Volta Region.

World Wildlife Day (WWD) is celebrated on March 3 every year, to raise awareness of the many fauna and flora species of the world with the aim to conserve them. This year, the theme was “Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation”, which focused on raising awareness about the latest digital technologies in wildlife conservation and trade, as well as the impact of digital intervention on ecosystems and communities around the world.

The District Chief Executive of the Adaklu District Assembly, Hon. Walter Zuh Wogbemase, said in his welcome address that the development and maintenance of wildlife in the Kalakpa Resource Reserve is to the benefit of the Assembly and surrounding communities as a whole. He, therefore pledged the Assembly’s unflinching support to any digital innovations or technologies towards wildlife conservation in the Park.

He again pointed out that the Adaklu Assembly together with the three neighboring District Assemblies, Ho West, Central Tongu, and North Tongu, have been putting in efforts to ensure that the Reserve is conserved in its natural state, free from the illegalities being perpetuated by members of the communities inside the Reserve.

The Executive Director of the Wildlife Division, Dr Joseph Boakye, Esq., who spoke about why the World Wildlife Day is celebrated each year, explained that the WWD celebration started in 2013, when the United Nations General Assembly through the Secretariat of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), proclaimed 3rd March of every year, as the Day to celebrate wild animals and plants.

By celebrating the Day, people around the world are reminded of the need to conserve and protect endangered species, their habitats, and overall biodiversity of our planet, he added.

The Chief Executive (CE), Mr John Allotey in his address, noted that the WWD celebration was brought to the locality to raise awareness of the need to conserve our wildlife resources and help curtail the illegalities going on in the Kalakpa Resource Reserve (KRR).

He explained that in recent times, there has been a rise in illegalities, such as illegal logging, charcoal production, bush burning, and farming at the Reserve. He urged the chiefs and people of the Kalakpa area to assist stem the tide of these illegal activities so that it does not go down in history that the Reserve was destroyed during their time.

Mr. Allotey told the gathering there are plans to resettle the communities living inside the Reserve/Park so as to keep the sanctity of the place, as was done for the Mole National Park, Gbele Resource Reserve, and Kyabobo National Park. Similarly, the CE said there are also plans to institute the Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) system in the area, and urged the chiefs, traditional leaders, and community members to be ready to nominate persons for the CREMAs.

Another issue the CE touched on was that the traditional leaders, district assemblies, and members of the communities must collaborate to bring investments to the Park. This will in turn raise revenue for the development of the districts and communities as a whole. He further mentioned that the Commission is also having engagements to bring tourism investments to develop the KRR.

The Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa in a speech read on his behalf by the Chief Director, Mr Augustus Awity, called on all stakeholders as well as the FC to be intentional about conserving and protecting the country’s wildlife resources, and forest reserves by keeping the environment green at all times.

He mentioned some of the broader benefits that wildlife conservation brings beyond protecting individual species. They include “preserve habitats of endangered species, protect the uniqueness of nature and raise the awareness of people to the considerate use of natural resources, secure smooth running of the ecosystem, tackle climate change issues and promote ecotourism and businesses, among others”, he explained.

He then highlighted on the need to promote the use of digital and technological instruments and tools because of the advantages they hold for the betterment of wildlife conservation.

The Chairman for the program, the Divisional Chief of Adaklu Ahunda Boso, Togbe Asamoah IV giving his remarks, noted that the Abutia portion of the Reserve has seen some development, however, the Adaklu section has been neglected. He thus urged the Forestry Commission to be minded about that and help develop the Adaklu side for tourism so that all the communities will benefit from the natural resources of the area.

He expressed the hope that KRR will be given the needed facelift to attract tourists and revelers and to help develop the districts and the Region as a whole.

Solidarity messages were presented by representatives of the Ho West Assembly, Centre for National Culture, Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF), and NGOs such as the Rotary Club and Climate Change Advisors.

A fire control demonstration was performed by the Regional Ghana National Fire Service to educate the communities on fire safety methods and practices towards protecting the Reserve.

Some innovative digital instruments and devices used for wildlife conservation by the Mole National Park and Shai Hills Resource Reserve teams were showcased. Similarly, the ICT Department exhibited some of the innovative technologies it had developed for wildlife and forest management, protection, and conservation.