Ghana’s Birds Are Disappearing Because of Poaching and Illegal Logging

Since 1995, half of Ghana’s bird population has been wiped out. Deforestation, on the other hand, has risen by 600%.

Researchers have found that poaching and illegal logging has destroyed Ghana’s wildlife, with studies showing dramatic declines in mammals and now birds. A paper by several researchers including Nicole Arcilla, a postdoctoral researcher at Drexel University who studied in Ghana’s forests counting the birds, found that the number of forest birds there has dropped by more than 50% since 1995.

The researchers also found that several species had disappeared altogether. They counted 46 forest bird species, compared to 71 from 20 years ago. And of the species they did observe, some of the numbers had declined by as much as 90%.

Photo by wagon16 / Public Domain Mark 1.0
Photo by wagon16 / Public Domain Mark 1.0

On the other hand, legal and illegal logging in the Ghana forests has increased by 600%, a number at which the forest will be gone if it continues. 80% of the logging is still illegal, which directly decimates the bird’s habitat but also gives more access to poachers. Arcilla says:

“The logging is so intense that it’s literally deforestation. Within a generation they’re all going to be gone. It’s just a terrible tragedy if we let it happen…Everywhere we went there were wire snare traps, which are completely banned in Ghana, but they’re everywhere. Even the smallest amount of law enforcement could change that, but there isn’t any.”

The good news is that even with the decline in bird numbers, the forests still housed many of the species from before. They can recover, if we allow them to. This means action must be taken to protect Ghana’s forests and the species that still dwell there, including forest patrols, roadblocks and eco-tourism. Arcilla says:

“These problems can be solved. Ghana is a resilient, vibrant country. There are a lot of people in Ghana who will help solve these problems if they are supported by the international community.”

Featured image by Francesco Veronesi / CC BY-SA 2.0

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