|Town/Region||Ankasa Conservation Area|
|Date||7 Jan 2020|
African dwarf crocodiles are among the most threatened crocodilians in the world due to extensive hunting and habitat loss-related population declines throughout their distribution. Eaton et al., 2009, proposed to split African dwarf crocodiles into three species where the West African species (Osteolaemus sp. nov. cf. tetraspis) is the most endangered. Ongoing IUCN Red List assessment suggests the West African population may warrant Endangered status-elevated from Vulnerable (M. Shirley, pers. comm.). Despite this, West African dwarf crocodiles have received relatively less research and conservation attention.
The Awniafutu Community Swamp Forest is among the few remaining off-protected areas in Ghana that harbours significant numbers of West African dwarf crocodiles. Unfortunately, the population here is threatened by hunting pressure and habitat disturbance. With our first Rufford Small Grant, we initiated various conservation interventions by conducting population surveys in sections of the forest as well as a series of awareness campaigns. Additionally, we trained a 12-member community volunteer group to act as local ambassadors for the species’ conservation.
The 2nd grant focuses on expanding surveys efforts to new areas, revisiting areas surveyed in the first phase and building on our awareness campaigns and local capacity development. The second grant will make three major contributions towards the species’ protection. First, it will enable us to cover new areas and get a bigger picture of the status of dwarf crocodiles in the forest. Furthermore, we will revisit the areas surveyed in the first phase to monitor changes in the population using the encounter rate as an abundance index. This data will contribute to the development of conservation and management strategies for the species in the forest. Second, this work will enable us to assess the occurrence of threats in the species’ habitat. The threats indices will give us first-hand information on the current status of the dwarf crocodiles in the forest. Moreover, we will compare threats encounter rate to our previous data to determine whether hunting has reduced. Gathering this data is crucial for assessing the effectiveness of our previous conservation messages, planning for subsequent awareness programmes and devising mitigation measures. Lastly, our awareness campaigns will allow us to further push the message of dwarf crocodile conservation in Anwiafutu.
Read about Emmanuels previous grant https://www.rufford.org/projects/emmanuel_amoah or for more information contact: