By Godfred A. Polkuu, Ghana News Agency
NANGODI: The Viridis Environmental Consult in collaboration with the Wildlife Division (WD) of the Forestry Commission (FC) has trained and equipped 45 community teams in the Nabdam District of the Upper East Region to mitigate crop raiding by elephants in the area.
Viridis Environmental Consult is a non-profit, research, advisory and project management service provider in agriculture development and natural resources management.
The training, which was under the Red Volta Community Elephant project, with support from Rufford Foundation small grant programme, sought to employ a community-based approach to school community teams and empower them to alleviate human elephant conflicts in the Red Valley ecosystem.
Dr Bright Kumordzi, the Managing Consultant of Viridis Environmental Consult in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Nangodi after facilitating the programme, said the first phase of the project covered communities in the Bongo, Nabdam, Bawku West and Talensi Districts of the Region.
He said the project would improve on elephant data collection and reporting, and further develop mechanism to solicit for cash and in-kind support from public and private institutions to sustain the communities of elephant crop raiding mitigation programmes.
Dr Kumordzi said after the training, ten community-based Elephant Management Teams (EMTs) would be spread across the Red Volta Valley ecosystem, responsible for implementing elephant related programmes in the form of community sensitization, monitoring and reporting. The EMTs would serve as formal contacts to the Wildlife Division (WD).
The project would deploy a mobile data collection and reporting system and trained community teams can collect and transmit information, Photos, GPS Coordinates, voice messages, movement, numbers and raids, on elephant activities, to a central reporting system to be managed by the WD.
This system could provide authentic real time information on elephant movement for EMTs to better co-ordinate their response to elephant crop raiding activities and WDs to plan for long-term elephant population monitoring in the area.
Mr Joseph Binlinla, the Upper East Regional Manager of the WD of the FC, said the elephants had two routes, namely the Eastern and Western Corridor elephant routes through communal lands and that they were trying to ensure that community members and elephants can co-exist peacefully.
He said the trainees were equipped to transmit information about elephants and their presence to the Regional office of the WD, and explained that once any information on the presence of elephants reflected in their systems, immediate action would be taken. ”The good aspect is that their gargets will be able to take geographic locations, so as soon as we receive information about the presence of elephants, officials will quickly mobilize and get to the area and shoot to scarce the elephants back into the forest reserve”, he said.
Some participants in an interview with the GNA after the training expressed gratitude to organizers, and said the programme had broadened their knowledge about elephants and the need to create a conducive environment for elephants to co-exist with them in the communities.
The trainees, who were to impart the knowledge to other members in the communities, received certificates of participation and iPads to enable them perform their duties effectively.