|Town/Region||Tano-Offin Forest Reserve, Suhuma Forest Reserve|
|Date||12 Mar 2014|
The two hinge-back tortoises, Kinixys homeana and K. erosa are listed by the IUCN as Vulnerable and Data Deficient respectively. They are also listed under Appendix II by CITES, which suggests prohibition in their hunting or capturing during certain period of the year. Although the two Kinixys tortoises are severely threatened throughout their habitat ranges, they are yet to receive focused research and conservation attention in West Africa, and Ghana in particular. The project areas, the Suhuma and Tano-Offin forest reserves hold an enormous expanse of habitats rich and diversified in wildlife fauna including Kinixys homeana and K. erosa. Unfortunately, preliminary investigations suggest that the species are collected all year round for food, trade and traditional medicine called juju.
This project will establish important data on the species distribution, abundances and population sizes within the study area. In addition, we will identify the human attitudes that influence the presence and absence of these species. With this biological and ethnozoological information we will produce technical reports and make them available to the Ghana Wildlife Division (which has the statutory right to protect the country’s wildlife) to alert them of illegal exploitations and exports to further develop conservation legislation in favour of these species. We will also share the technical reports, blogs and Facebook posts with the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group and other conservation groups interested in the protection of tortoises and freshwater turtles.
With the objective of increasing awareness on the conservation needs of the tortoises and their habitats, we will create awareness through workshops, video shows and radio broadcast programmes. We will develop relevant educational materials including PowerPoint slides, posters, flyers and t-shirts. With these we will reach out to educate local people including an estimated 1,000 school teachers and children at four community schools. Overall, the educational programme will include outlining the benefits to ecosystem health of maintaining tortoises’ populations, and the consequences when tortoises are over-exploited. To ensure the development of a sustained conservation action plan, we will also enhance the capacity of local stakeholders and students in the basic ecology and conservation needs of tortoises. Overall, our project results will serve as an important benchmark as will inform both current and future conservation interventions that will safeguard the species’ critical habitats for their long-term protection.
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