Today on Ghanaweb.com there was an article (link here) about a Farmer who was caught and fined inside the Ankasa Resource Reserve. He was fined 360 Ghana Cedis (about $300 US) for unlawful entrance to the reserve. The 64 year old farmer was arrested by Wildlife Division rangers on one of their normal patrols through the park which are done frequently to catch poachers. He was found with one shotgun, three cartridges and a machete. These items were also confiscated.
In the link to the reserve here, I have talked about how a lot of development has gone into this park and reserve but there does not seem to be a lot of connection between the community and the park operations, un- like some of the other community based tourism projects in other places in the country. It has been shown that conservation is more successful with community support and that is usually gained by them being an active participant in the development or the conservation, and the tourism that is generated from it. Are circumstances like this a result of the lack of connection between community and conservation?
Then the question arise what is a fair punishment for poachers, or in this case even a 64 year old farmer without any proof that he had done harm to animals in the reserve, just the potential for it because he was carrying a gun?
The comments from the article on Ghana web are very interesting and show how controversial these very questions can be:
“Unfair Charge- He has the right to roam in the forest as native. also did not cause harm to any of the animals for gods shake.” By sumani the pocket lawyer
“The foreign miners are grazing the forest reserves down with way far heavy equipment such as 330 excavators, bulldozers and caterpillars nobody is arresting them, in fact, they even have the military guarding their equipment from angry citizens who can’t stand their forests being destroyed. a gun with 3 cartridges and a cutlass in the forest considered as equipment capable of destroying animals? oh God the poor will continue to suffer unfairly. crazy black people with the brain of a lobster have to be serious.” By body
“Shocked at people’s comments- I am really surprised at some of the comments.While I concede that the poor must live, the animals must live too. In most advanced countries, the laws concerning the illegal killing of animals are even stickier. I have seen people loose their cars and houses for killing animals illegally. It is quiet unfortunate that in Ghana, the people who are supposed to help protect the animals are the very ones who connive to kill the animals. While I agree that the poor must live, the poor should have found another place to hunt instead of the protected area.” By Lord Dennig
“Political Enslavement- WHAT ABOUT SOME OF OUR POLITICAL LEADERS
WHO HAVE SOLD,OUR NATION’S RESOURCE, WEATHS,ESTIMATED TO BE($300,000000.00)
THREE HUNDREDS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS,THE WHOLE NATIONWIDE,ARE AWARE OF THIS,BUT OUR,JUSTICE,AND POLICE,HAVE SO FAR NOT DONE ANYTHING ABOUT IT.” By BLAC-STAR-STATE
“Need to preserve our wildlife- Totally agree with the Wildlife and Game act by arresting the man. It’s about time we set aside some of our ecosystem and preserve our nature for future generations. We can easily breed akrantie (bush meat used for food) without destroying our endangered species.” By Zongoba
As you can see Ghanaian’s opinions about this vary significantly and understandably. Some recognize that the resources need to be protected but there seems to be a divide about who has access to them with large mining companies seemingly having unlimited access when an old man looking for some meat for some soup is fined. When the government is in the job of protecting resources; who is going to protect the resources from greedy governmental interests?
How do you think cases like this should be handled?