By: Ewoenam Kpodo | Voltaonlinegh |
Park Manager, Kalakpa Resource Reserve, Samuel Darko-Akonor has called on chiefs and people of Abutia and Adaklu communities where the Reserve is located to lend their support to surmount hurdles in protecting and conserving the Park.
Mr. Darko-Akonor said officers and rangers faced difficult situations in addition to trekking long distances “on rugged terrain and in harsh weather conditions to combat illegalities.”
“In the discharge of our field duties, we face open confrontations from poachers, loggers of timber, cattle herders, illegal farmers and attacks by local communities, which in some cases result in casualties.”
According to him, one major challenge in managing the Park was dealing with the over 25 settlement of about 3,000 people living in the Reserve with low staff strength who are without the proper tools to deal with the “emerging dynamics in forest protection and conservation.”
The Park Manager therefore called for concerted efforts stop Kalakpa Resource Reserve from being a hotbed of illegalities.
“I will appeal to our traditional and community leaders and the good citizens of Abutia and Adaklu to join Management with one voice in educating those communities living in and around the Reserve on the effects of environmental degradation being caused by them from practices such as logging, charcoal production, poaching, farming, cattle grazing, and above all the unwarranted and frequent attacks on staff who enforce regulations.”
Mr. Darko-Akonor said these in a welcome address on the occasion of the inauguration of a new office building at the Park Headquarters of the Kalakpa Resource Reserve at Abutia on Thursday.
The building was dedicated to those who suffered casualties while protecting the Park including Victor Sesi in whose memory a monument was unveiled on the day.
Paramount Chief of Abutia Traditional Area, Togbe Abutia Kodzo Gidi V in a speech, gave government and management of Kalakpa Resource Reserve, 7-month ultimatum to evict and/or resettle the 25 settlements in the reserve or risk a take-over of the Park by the community.
Togbe Gidi said “it’s surprising, landowners have moved out but settlers remain there to do all the illegalities” yet successive governments had since 1975, failed to “relocate all settlers from Kalakpa Reserve for staff to work.”
“By end of this year, if the settlers don’t move out, our ancestors waged war that land and we will be forced to take it back,” he warned.
District Chief Executive for Ho West, Ernest Victor Apau pledged government’s commitment in addressing the issues of illegalities taking place in the Reserve and called for the support of citizens to arrest the situation and to relocate settlers living there in order to conserve the Park.
Executive Director, Wildlife Division, Nana Kofi Adu-Nsiah who noted the concerns raised by earlier speakers promised that his outfit would do its best and with the help of the traditional area, see Kalakpa to the level it ought to be.
Nana Adu-Nsiah said the Division was working things out to relocate settlers in the Reserve and other reserves across the country adding that, a 2-million USD discussion was ongoing and “as soon as we get the funds, we’ll raise the awareness to get them out.”
He also disclosed that 4 drones had been procured with a set of people going for drones training for effecting monitoring of illegal activities in the reserves.
Kalakpa Resource Reserve covers about 32,020 hectares of land stretching from Abutia (Ho West) to Adaklu (Adaklu District) in the Volta Region. It serves as home to rare animals including buffalos, bird species, and a variety of plants of economic importance.