The largest wildlife sanctuary in Ghana is Mole National Park. At an elevation of 150 meters, the park is located in Ghana’s Savannah region, on savanna and riparian ecosystems, with a high escarpment creating the park’s southern boundary. The park’s entrance is located in Larabanga, a local town. During the long dry season, the Lovi and Mole Rivers are ephemeral rivers that run through the park, leaving only watering holes behind. This part of Ghana receives over 1000 mm of rain every year. Mole National Park has been the subject of a long-term study to determine the influence of human hunters on the park’s wildlife.
In 1958, the park’s properties were designated as a wildlife refuge. The area’s small human population was relocated in 1971, and the land was declared a national park. Since its inception as a tourist destination, the park has undergone little development. The park as a protected area is underfunded, and there are national and international worries about poaching and the park’s long-term viability, although it has improved its protection of vital resident antelope species since its inception as a preserve.
The park is a valuable research site for scientists since the human population has been removed from the park, allowing for some long-term studies, particularly of relatively undisturbed regions when compared to similar areas of highly inhabited equatorial West Africa. Elephant damage to huge trees varies by species, according to one research on a resident population of 800 elephants. Elephants in Mole have a higher proclivity for significantly injuring economically important species like Burkea africana, a tropical hardwood, and Butyrospermum paradoxum, the source of shea butter, than for less important Terminalia spp.
Honey produced from flowers in the Molé National Forest has recently been designated as the region’s first fair-trade product. Villagers nearby harvest the honey using non-invasive, traditional ways, and have teamed with a Utah-based company to offer it as a health and wellness supplement in the United States. Ashanti Chief Nana Kwasi Agyemang co-founded the program in the hopes of rekindling local interest in honey and eventually exporting it to other African countries.
Burkea africana is a Legume that may be found all throughout Tropical Africa, notably in Ghana’s Mole National Park.
Burkea africana, Isoberlinia doka, and Terminalia macroptera are among the park’s tree species. The diversity of savanna grasses is limited, but known species include Kyllinga echinata, Aneilema setiferum var. pallidiciliatum, and two endemic members of the Asclepiadaceae subfamily, the vine Gongronema obscurum and the edible geophyte Raphionacme vignei.
The park is home to over 93 mammal species, including elephants, hippos, buffalo, and warthogs among the area’s major mammals. The park is home to antelope species such as the kob, defassa waterbuck, roan, hartebeest, oribi, bushbuck, and two duiker species, the red duiker and yellow-backed duiker.
The park’s known monkey species include olive baboons, black-and-white colobus monkeys, green vervet monkeys, and patas monkeys. Slender-snouted and miniature crocodiles are two of the 33 reptile species present in the area. Hyenas, lions, and leopards are rarely seen in the park, but these animals used to be more prevalent. The martial eagle, white-headed and palm-nut vultures, saddle-billed storks, herons, egrets, the Abyssinian roller, the violet turaco, different shrikes, and the red-throated bee-eater are among the 344 bird species listed.
Poaching prevention is underfunded in Mole National Park, as it is in other Ghanaian wildlife preserves. Nonetheless, the park’s biodiversity is protected by skilled rangers, and poachers are in serious danger of being apprehended. Poachers tend to live within 50 kilometers of the park’s boundaries. The reported farthest distance hunters were willing to travel with poached game was 50 kilometers. In 1961, the park’s remaining human population was removed, leaving all game hunters outside the reserve, so that mammal populations on the park’s outskirts are more damaged by hunting than those in the center.
The number of visitors to the park climbed from 14,600 in 2014 to 17,800 in 2015 after modifications to the roads leading to the park. 20-40% of visitors are international, depending on the year. “We received a lot of visitors, but the funds earned were quite low,” explains Park Manager Farouk Umaru Dubiure, “since 70% of the visitors were Ghanaian students who paid very little to visit the park.” In comparison to foreigners who spend more days viewing the Park, these students visit the Park on the same day and return.”