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General News of Monday, 15 June 2020

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Forestry Commission condemns killing of rare aquatic mammal caught in Afram River


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The Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission has condemned recent reports that fishers at Nketepa, a fishing community in the Eastern Region, bycaught a rare marine mammal and ate it.

The incident happened in the Kwahu East District of the Eastern Region on Saturday, June 6.

The fishers are reported to have bycaught the rare Manatee Sea Cow in the Afram River, killed it and shared its meat to other residents in the fishing community.

“It took the tedious efforts of many fisher-folks in the area to pull the mammal trapped in the fishing net to the shore,” the report attributed to Starr FM indicated.

However, commenting on the incident last Friday, June 12, 2020, Public Relations Manager for the Wild Life Division of the Forestry Commission, Joseph Yaw Oppong, said the creature, like the marine turtle, is so rare it is placed under Schedule One species under the Wild Animal Preservation Act 43 of 1961.

“They are very scarce species and because of their morphological development they are placed under Schedule One species,” he said, to emphasise the importance the state has put on the species.

According to him, the Manatees are especially rare because their gestation – i.e. the period of development of a child or young animal while it is still inside its mother's body – can span some 18 months.

Mr Oppong said the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission has been sensitising fishers against killing wildlife species, but some have failed to cooperate.

Asked if his outfit has adequately educated fishers about the status of some of these mammals, he replied: “they know; they are aware that they don’t have to kill these species. They think that when they are fishing and they come out empty without anything they can just catch these rare animals and come and sell.”

In 2017, fishermen on the Volta Lake at Ekye-Amanfrom in the Afram Plains South District, also caught three manatees when they went fishing.

Mr Oppong said differences in cultural practices across the country can either reinforce or worsen wildlife conservation campaigns.

He said his experience has been that fishers in Ada, for instance, do not kill such species but others do.

He, however, urged the public to support the fight against the killing of these rare wildlife species by intervening when fishers catch them.

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