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The Afadjato-Agumatsa Conservation and Eco-Tourism Initiative

December 8, 2009 4 comments

Mountain Afadjato

When I was taking lessons in Geography as a child at the Sakasaka Primary School in Tamale, I was told by my class five teacher that Mountain Afadjato is the highest mountain in Ghana. As a child, I memorized that information to pass my examinations. I was given the same information again at Tamale Secondary School where I studied geography for my Ordinary Level Examinations and once again it was only relevant as far as passing exams was concerned.
I finally came face to face with the great Mountain Afadjato a couple of days ago, decades after I had heard of that mountain. Mountain Afadjato is nestled among other mountains; the Agumatsa range and high hills which form part of the Akwapim-Togo ranges along Ghana’s border with Togo. It is a few kilometers drive from Hohoe in the Volta Region. The mountain stands at 2,905 ft above sea level and it is possible to climb it from Gbledi-Gbogame. At the top of the mountain, climbers are provided with a panoramic view of villages, towns, deep valleys and the Volta Lake as far as the eye can see.
However, what any visitor would find very commendable is the effort being made by people living in three communities in the area to preserve the natural flora and fauna around the mountain. Mr. David Logotse, a Community Forest Guard, said the Afadjato-Agumatsta Conservation and Eco-Tourism Initiative was established in reaction to fears that continuous bushfires being experienced in the area in the past could destroy its natural vegetation if nothing was done about it. “We the community members approached the Department of Game and Wildlife for technical support which eventually led to the establishment of the 13 km2 conservation park in 1998 with funding from the Nertherlands Embassy”, he said.
They demarcated a buffer zone, and also created a fire belt that is weeded periodically to ward off bushfires, which sometimes emanated from neigbouring Togo. People were stopped from hunting, logging, or cultivating crops within the park. This was reinforced by a bye-law passed by the district assembly prohibiting all forms of human activity in the park. During the closed season for hunting, people can be arrested for hunting duikers, antelopes, monkeys and other animals in the area.
“The assistance package provided by the Nertherlands Embassy also provided training in alternative livelihoods such as beekeeping, snail and grass cutter farming for community inhabitants so that they do not need to poach or cultivate crops within the conservation park”, Mr. Logotse said.
The reserve is home to 33 mammals. These include the bush buck, Maxwell duikers, the Mona and the White- Spotted Nose monkeys, the long tailed pangolin, and the mongoose, which eats a lot of snakes and has reduced their population in the area.
Over 150 birds nestle in its trees “This is an important bird area for the whole Ghana, it is birdlife international. We are in partnership with The Department for Game and Wildlife who normally come to do their research on birds here. So if you kill a bird here, you are under arrest”, Mr. Logotse disclosed. The area also boasts of about 355 species of butterflies.
Its flora includes over 430 plant species, some of which are useful to the community. These include Abrus precatorius, with black and red seeds used for making beads and dolls, and Ceiba pentadra, commonly known as the silk cotton tree, whose huge trunk is used in making dug-out canoes, its tufts used as stuffing for pillows and mattresses while its leaves are eaten. The Bambusa vulgaris provides the raw material for the beautiful bamboo furniture one sees being displayed along some routes in Accra. For local communities, bamboo is used as yam stakes and fuel wood. The huge globular fruits of the Crescentia cujete are used for making calabashes and gourds while the gum and resins from the bark of Daniellia oliveri is burnt as incense in the local churches with the wood used for building construction and furniture. A lot of medicinal plants also abound here.
The Afadjato-Agumatsa Conservation and Eco-Tourism Initiative is a combination of nature and the comforts of modern technology. “Guiness Ghana Limited provided the park with a mechanized pipe and we also have electricity”, says the forest guard. For a fee ranging from three to seven Ghana cedis, one can pitch a tent on the rich green grass on the grounds of the park and rest on nature’s carpet surrounded by mountain peaks after trekking through the mountains. No wonder then that people flock to the park to catch a glimpse of nature without sacrificing the comforts of civilisation. “We now have a lot of visitors. From Thursday, Friday Saturday and Sunday, they come in their numbers” says Mr. Logotse. So why not be part of this influx of visitors. Next time you think of a place of relaxation, simply board a vehicle to Hohoe from where you can make your way to the reserve. Don’t be like me who waited decades to see Ghana’s highest mountain.