IN FOREST RESERVES IN ARTS OF THE CENTRAL AND WESTERN REGION.
Ghana Wildlife Society with support from the Leventis Foundation and ALA of Switzerland has a long term research and conservation action project targeting the conservation of the White-necked Picathartes. Recent studies on the biology of White-necked Picathartes in Ghana concluded that, the species has declined in population and near extinction. The need to identify and document all possible nesting colonies in order to establish a more comprehensive spatial distribution and population size in Ghana, necessitated an expanded search for nesting colonies in other parts of the high forest zone.
The work was done through scouting. Scouting entailed informal interview with local farmers and hunters in fringe communities of target forest reserves using a colour picture of White-necked Picathartes to ask about their knowledge of the bird in the picture. Respondents were randomly selected but in most cases selections were informed by the perceived knowledge of the respondents particularly with respect to their knowledge of the forest in the neighbouring areas of their community. Respondents who were adjudged to be consistent and credible in the account of their knowledge of the bird were engaged to lead search team to the field to verify their claim. During the first outing to the field some of the claims by local people in some communities of their knowledge of the bird turned out to be wrong.
Active and inactive nesting sites were confirmed in 5 reserves, our efforts to locate new nest sites of the species is often frustrated by unwillingness of local people to lead search in the field. This is due to mistrust for “foreigners” by local communities. Several local people interviewed reported hunting the bird for food. This was confirmed by the field team as human presence was evident around the nesting sites. Habitat disturbances associated with logging has been identified as one of the key factors that has adversely affected the species in Ghana and the entire West African Sub-region The continued search will be extended to other reserves within the high forest zone.
Conservation education, awareness and advocacy constitute a significant proportion of the expanded search. Communities are engaged and educated on the importance of conservation especially Picathartes.