Scientists discover globally rare terrestrial  Monkey in Atewa Forest in Ghana Scientists discover globally rare terrestrial  Monkey in Atewa Forest in Ghana
The attention of the International community is directing to Ghana following A Rocha  Scientists discovery of Cercocebus Lunulatus ,a rare terrestrial Monkey in the... Scientists discover globally rare terrestrial  Monkey in Atewa Forest in Ghana

The attention of the International community is directing to Ghana following A Rocha  Scientists discovery of Cercocebus Lunulatus ,a rare terrestrial Monkey in the Atewa Forest Reserve in the Eastern Region of the country.

 
The mangabey – a rare terrestrial monkey – is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species.
 
 
The Scientists discovered the globally threatened White-naped Mangabey (Cercocebus lunulatus) in the Atewa Forest few days ago using infrared camera trap.

 

The primate was known to live in only a handful of sites in western Ghana, eastern Cote d’Ivoire and southern Burkina Faso but now endangered . 

 

 

Primates are human closest creature with almost similar biological traits .Primates play very crucial role  in pharmacology ,biomass formation ,research among others hence cherished but human activities including poaching and deforestation are wiping off primate population worldwide . 

 

Dr Jeremy Lindsell of A Rocha International,the lead Scientist for the new discovery of lamented that “Unfortunately, this newly discovered population of this endangered monkey in Atewa is threatened by a bauxite mine being planned for this biologically important forest, as well as by snare traps and hunting for the bush-meat trade”.

 

 

Andrea Dempsey, the Executive Director for West African Primate Conservation Action (WAPCA) which supports a captive breeding programme for White-naped Mangabeys in Accra and Kumasi zoos says: “White-naped Mangabeys are so rare that I think these may be the first photographs of them in the wild in Ghana.  Finding them in Atewa Forest gives hope to our efforts to save them. Protecting critical habitat such as Atewa Forest will be key for their long term survival.”

 

Atewa Forest harbours a high diversity of threatened and endemic species including birds, mammals, reptiles, butterflies and amphibians. In recent months, the high economic value of the ecosystem services that Atewa Forest provides to many Ghanaians was highlighted in a 2016 report to the Government of Ghana titled The Economics of the Atewa Forest Range, Ghana. Chief amongst these services is the clean water supply flowing from the Atewa hills on which over five million Ghanaians depend. 

 

This makes it all the more concerning that the Government of Ghana with the Government of China wants to push ahead with plans to extract bauxite – the ore of aluminium – from the Atewa Hills at Kyebi. 

 

The hill tops of Atewa will be completely removed during mining because the bauxite deposits are only found in the top few metres. This will destroy all vegetation and associated fauna because bauxite cannot be extracted using a low impact method. Re-establishment of the original flora and fauna on areas that have once been mined is virtually impossible especially with highly complex and biologically rich forests like Atewa.

 

“Extracting bauxite from Atewa Forest is incompatible with biodiversity conservation and the ecosystem services that the forest provides. It will spell the end of the unique and irreplaceable species that the forest contains,” says Jan Kamstra of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Netherlands.

 

A Rocha, IUCN Netherlands and many other stakeholders including international businesses have advocated for Atewa Forest reserve to be upgraded to a National Park. The creation of a new National Park at Atewa has substantial local support, including from the Okyenhene of the Akyem Abuakwa, who is the traditional ruler where the forest is located. 

In a letter to the President of Ghana dated 15th December, 2017 Dr Russ Mittermeier, Chair of the IUCN Primate Specialist Group,stated that“It is a matter of some urgency that the forest is properly protected both from hunting and from habitat change… I urge that Ghana’s commitments to the Convention on Biological Diversity and to the Sustainable Development Goals take precedence in this case and that Atewa Forest is removed from mining plans once and for all and made into a National Park.”

Mr Seth Appiah-Kubi, Director of A Rocha Ghana said “The discovery of this mangabey confirms that there is more in Atewa Forest that we are yet to discover, but mined today it will be lost forever. The threat of destruction has hung over Atewa Forest for too many years now, so it is time for the Government of Ghana to stand by its commitments to a sustainable future for our people, to honour first of all his commitment to securing our natural heritage, and also our international commitments, and to act to protect this forest in perpetuity as a National Park. It would be appalling to see a decision taken that would push so many species that much closer to extinction “.

Atewa Forest habitat for 18 critically endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable Species 

Atewa Forest is part of the Upper Guinea Forests region stretching from Ghana west to Sierra Leone. Only c 5% of the forest in this region now remains. As a result many of the species that are restricted to this region have now become extremely rare and many are found in only a handful of locations. Ghana’s forests make an important contribution to the conservation of this biome and these species. Atewa Forest is particularly distinct because of its high altitude. Atewa Forest was singled out by E.O. Wilson in his recent Pulitzer prize- winning book Half Earth as one of 38 places around the world of greatest priority to protect.
 
Atewa Forest is home to 18 threatened (Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable), 13 near-threated and 3 data-deficient species (IUCN categories) comprising  9 mammals, 11 birds, 8 amphibians, 1 reptile, 2 insects and 3 plants. The Togo Slippery Frog Conraua derooi is a Critically Endangered amphibian known only from Atewa Forest and a handful of sites in eastern Ghana. The high altitude of Atewa Forest causes a distinctive type of vegetation to grow that is extremely rare in Ghana but very rich in species. Over 860 species of plant have been recorded in Atewa. The forest has over 570 species of butterflies recorded and another 138 expected to occur which would make it the richest forest for butterflies in West Africa.