Tortoise ,worldwide is among the most endangered species hence listed as contraband by Convention on International Trade ,CITES . Locally,tortoises are extincting hence under endangered species protection.
However, shells of tortoise have been found in some Ghanaian market exposing the weaknesses in enforcement of Wildlife regulations in the country.
Some Market women in the Eastern regional capital ,Koforidua ,were spotted selling shells of Tortoise , during market surveillance by Environmental News Agency .
The traders said, tortoises are rare therefore have become expensive .According to them, they purchase the endangered tortoise species from poachers staying around the Atewa forest reserve ,which is rich and abundant in species .
Tortoise shells found in the market are sold for prize range of ghc100 to Ghc200 equivalent to $ 25 to $50 per shell depending on the size.
The shells of the tortoise are mostly patronized by native doctors who use for “spiritual medicines”,according to the traders.
Ghana has over the years loss most of its abundant wildlife species to due to poaching .Wildlife have been unsustainably collected from the wild for food, perceived medicinal beliefs and pets while their habitats are being polluted, degraded and destroyed with impunity .
Many rural Ghanaians depend on bush-meat as source of meat for their meals due to poverty making it difficult for strict enforcement of Wildlife regulations in the country .
Despite this challenges ,some species such as tortoise have been listed among endangered wildlife that require protection from poaching to prevent extinction, however,
enforcement of the Wildlife regulations in Ghana is extremely weak.
The Wildlife division of the Forestry Commission ,mandated to protect Wildlife for sustainability, is not well resourced both in human ,finance and logistics .
Wildlife rangers risk their lives struggling with poachers wielding dangerous weapons in forest reserves .Confrontations between wildlife rangers and poachers have led to fatalities and injuries as the rangers are shot.
The Wildlife Division appeal to government to provide sophisticated guns to the rangers is yet to be heeded .