Wildlife Officers of the Gbelle Resource Reserve have been receiving series of attack by local hunters who usually go into the reserve for hunting. Officers at the forest in this month alone (April 2020) have been attacked twice according to the division.
According to Dr. Nana Owusu Ansah, Pack Manager of Gbelle Reserve, the recent attack came on April,13, 2020 after officers of the reserve picked intelligence that, two strayed elephants were moving along communities closer to the reserve and in their attempt to protect the animals and to prevent them from attacking residents within the area, they embarked on a patrol and was later informed that one of the elephants has been attacked and kill by local hunters.
He added that, during the patrol they got some two men on motorbikes with some elephant meat and upon confronting the hunters who proved recalcitrant in cooperating with them, they attempted arresting the hunters and a scuffle ensued between the wildlife officers and the hunters and one of the officers was bitten by one of the men on the bikes resulting to the breaking of the officers’ carpal bone.
“On the 13th of April this year, we heard about two elephants that had migrated apparently from the Nazinga game ranch in Burkina Faso and these are elephants we regard them as international elephants so it is our duty to protect them on two fronts, the first is that we don’t want any body to harm the animals, the second we do not want them to attack anybody so whenever they come around we protect both human and the animals so that they go back. When we heard it, it was around 11am so we deployed four of our staff to the scene, unfortunately when we got there around 12:45 noon we heard one of the animals has been killed so we were trying to find out where the cacas was lying, we needed to comb around and we combed around until around 3pm that we saw two people on motorbikes and they were holding elephant meat and we asked them where they got it from, they were not cooperating and in our attempt to arrest them one of them bit the hand of one of my staff seriously that the carpal bone is broken, that is by X-ray report.”
Dr. Nana Ansah says the incident of attacks on officers in the area is not new adding that since 2016 they have being receiving attacks from poachers revealing that, one of his officers was shot by a poacher. He said they encountered some hunters from the Bugbelle area and there was a shootout, the wildlife officers who were outnumbered by the hunters got over powered and their rifle was broken.
The Manager who made these revelations Thursday April 23, 2020 on Radio Waa’s Yelkaabahe programme stated that, on April 5, 2020 this year, they picked intelligence that some people were coming into the reserve from Wallembele to hunt and during their patrols they got one person arrested and sent to their camp and some of the hunters who got to know that, some of their officers were patrolling along the Wahabu area, the local hunters mobilised and attacked them beating the officers mercilessly but 27 of the hunters were later arrested and released on bail due to the COVID-19.
He however seized the opportunity and educated the public on some of the laws establishing the powers of the wildlife division adding that, some of the animals are not allowed for hunting at all whilst others are permissible for hunting but the hunter must first get a permit from the division.
Dr. Ansah further revealed that, the Gbelle reserve have almost all the animals at Mole National pack just that, the people of Upper West Region are not patronising the services of the reserve as tourist site appealing to the good people of the Upper West Region to save themselves from risking their lives to other packs by patronising the services of the Gbelle resource reserve.
He again appealed to government to get officers of wildlife division equipped with logistics so that they can withstand some of the challenges they have being encountering adding that, the reserve is understaffed hence the need for more staff to be recruited.