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CI Targets Critical Threat to Biodiversity in Ghana

September 2002

Conservation International (CI) launched an ambitious public awareness campaign in Ghana in late August to stop a growing trade in wild animals for food that threatens many endangered species.

While meat from wild animals provides important protein for rural communities, the scale of consumption is now causing irreversible declines in important animal populations.

One key component in the new campaign is exploring the use of culture to secure the commitment and active participation of traditional leaders and their communities to reduce consumption and find viable alternatives.

"We've found you cannot use threats and you cannot rely only on laws," says CI-Ghana Director Okyeame Ampadu-Agyei. "You need to unlock the situation through people's culture."

The culture and tradition of many Ghanaian communities are inextricably interwoven with wildlife. Some wild animals are symbols of specific clans and therefore taboo to hunt while others are crucial to the celebration of certain festivals. In addition, many Ghanaian chiefs swear an oath to be custodians of the culture of their peopleā€”an oath that could prove to be an important foundation to support biodiversity conservation.

The campaign is one of four projects being supported by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) in Ghana and neighboring Liberia to take aim at this critical threat to biodiversity in the Upper Guinean Forest, which is part of the Guinean Forests of West Africa biodiversity hotspot.

Learn more about CEPF's strategy in this hotspot.

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© Conservation International, photo by Russell A. Mittermeier
The annual bushmeat trade in Ghana is valued at $350 million.

As part of the launch, more than 200 government officials, NGOs, tribal leaders and representatives of the bushmeat trade agreed to a 55-point action plan called the "Accra Declaration on the Bushmeat Crisis."

Update on CI's bushmeat campaign.

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Photo credits for banner images: (Frog) © CI, Haroldo Castro; (Chameleon) © CI, Russell A. Mittermeier