Park managers at the Gbele Resource Reserve have said poaching of migratory elephants is on the rise in the Sissala East Municipality of the Upper West region with one killed by unknown persons.
According to the park’s management, it has been an annual routine of the elephants to migrate from the Naziga forest of Burkina Faso to the game reserve and this makes the elephants vulnerable to poachers but the intervention of the management of the Gbele Resource Reserve led to the rescue of three elephants that had migrated to Ghana and were being pursued by some poachers.
Dr. Nana Owusu-Ansah, Park Manager of Gbele Resource Reserve told the B&FT that poachers from communities around Tasor and Bugubelle attacked and killed one of the elephants at the blind side of game and wildlife officials last week Monday.
Gbele, in the Upper West region is the wildlife protected area of Ghana closest to Burkina Faso on a trans-boundary migratory route for elephants and other mammals to and from the Naziga Game Ranch
“The elephants migrate from Burkina Faso to Ghana every year between the months of April and August. And this time when the Wildlife Division got information about the animals at 11 am on the said date, quickly deployed staff to protect the animals and also against any possible attack on the people from the animals”.
“When the animals arrive in the communities, management tries to protect the animals as well the indigenes to ensure not attacked by the animals” he said.
“When we got to scene at about 12:45 in the afternoon of the same day, we heard one has been shot and killed. We had to comb through the bushes to find the exact spot the dead animal was located as the people refused to show us the location” he said.
According to him management on their way back found two persons carrying meat of elephant on a motorbike around 3pm and called for their arrest adding that the suspects were handed over to the Municipal Police Station for investigation.
Dr Owusu-Ansah noted that because the law court was not in operation, the police had to give the suspect a bail per the law of the security service.
He noted that management embarked on intensive search in the bush for the dead animal and found out that the tusk and other valuables of the animal have been taken away stating What was left was the skull and a piece of the hip bone.
He added that the other animal was monitored to ensure its safety till it moved towards the Sissala River which is one of the migratory routes of the animals.
Dr Owusu-Ansah said on Thursday 16th April 2020 another three elephants moving from the Gbele reserve passed through the Jeffisi forest at 18:00GMT in the Sissala West also came under attack after one of the elephants was reportedly shot.
“Then again on the night of the same day, the wildlife Division heard of another three elephants which were heading towards a forest reserve around Jeffissi in the Sissala West. The animals were threatened again by poachers but the Wildlife Division has deployed personnel to protect them.
Alarmed by the double attack on the elephants, residents were cautioned to stay away from the animals to prevent them from being harmed.
Dr Owusu-Ansah said investigation is ongoing to arrest the poachers who shot and killed the first animal.
He appealed to the traditional authorities and the residents to help protect the animals for a better future saying the poaching of the animals illegal could pose affect the nation in its efforts towards reserving the place for game viewing.