The Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission has imposed a four-month ban on hunting, capturing and destroying of wild animals in the country’s forests.
Known as the "close season," the annual ban on hunting for all wild animals, except the grasscutter which can be hunted under licence, will last from August 1 to December 1, this year, in conformity with the Wildlife Conservation Regulation, 1971 (L.I. 685).
The essence is to offer respite for wild animals, such as dikers, royal antelopes and boars (bushpigs), which supply the bulk of game (bush meat) as it is time for the animals to breed.
According to the Wildlife Division, Ghana's wildlife were being overhunted and had reached a point where the dwindling number of animals was threatening the food security of both rural and urban communities, survival of the species and the integrity of the country as a signatory to international conventions.
Speaking at a short ceremony to announce the ban at the Zoological Gardens in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region at the weekend, the Executive Director of the Wildlife Division, Mr Bernard Asamoah-Boateng, explained that "it is imperative that the animals are given respite from hunting to wean their young for a successful recruitment into the next generation.”
He appealed to the general public not to patronise game, dead or alive, except for grasscutter so that hunters would find it uneconomical to hunt the animals.
For the grasscutter, he said research had shown that the ‘’close season’’ could result in excessive populations for them, with possible negative impact on agricultural production, hence the need for the licence to allow for controlled hunting during the season.
Mr Asamoah-Boateng also called on the police to arrest and prosecute such offenders with assistance from the nearest Wildlife Division or the Forestry Commission offices across the country.
He reiterated that wildlife had been the source of heritage and livelihoods and that it continued to play a very important role in the development of nations, particularly those in Africa.
"It features prominently in festivals, the arts, drama and folklore and serves as a totem,” he explained, adding that it also provides animal protein in the diet of many people, ranging from insects to reptiles and mammals.
"Access to bush meat also provides an important safety net for most people in the rural areas in times of economic stress," Mr Asamoah-Boateng added.