By Jesse S. Ayivor1, Chris Gordon, Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu
The Digya National Park in Ghana has been the scene of conflicts between local communities and wildlife managers ever since its establishment in 1971. The conflicts range from apprehension of local people by Wildlife Officials for entry into the park to collect non-timber forest products, to serious confrontation with poachers, arrests and evictions that occasionally result in deaths. Documented information on these conflicts, however, is scanty. This study examines the root causes of conflict in Digya National Park, with a view to recommending policy interventions that will help curtail the conflicts. Data for the study were derived from focused group discussions, direct interviews with stakeholders, on-site observations, as well as, from a management effectiveness evaluation exercise that involved administration of a pre-designed questionnaire to protected area managers and administrators. The results revealed that a major underlying source of conflict in the park was poverty in neighbouring communities. This, together with unresolved issues of compensation payment, animal raids on farmlands and exclusion of local communities in the management process, have fuelled illegal activities, mainly hunting and encroachment, leading to several conflict situations. Arrest of culprits and forced evictions by Wildlife Officials had not helped in curtailing illegal activities and conflicts. The study recommends linking wildlife management to community development to ensure that local economies and livelihoods of fringe communities are sustained while seeking to attain the objectives of wildlife conservation in order to minimize conflicts.
Protected areas constitute a major component of national and regional strategies to counter biodiversity loss. They are considered as in situ repositorys of genetic wealth as well as relics of pristine landscapes that deeply touch the spiritual, cultural, aesthetic and relational dimensions of human existence (Chape et al., 2003; Putney, 2003). In recent times however two terminologies ‘paper parks’ and ‘island parks’ have become synonymous with many protected areas, depicting how most protected areas have failed to maintain their ecological character (Laurance, 2008). Invariably, humans are the main agents of park degradation and are responsible for the failure or abysmal performance of most protected areas. More....