Only Known Habitat Of Vulnerable Picathartes Colonies Under Imminent Threat
The forest habitat of Ghana’s only known colony of white-necked rock fowl, Picathartes gymnocephalus, is under imminent threat from logging. The species, classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, is now found only in the Nyamebe Bepo Forest Reserve in the Ashanti Region.
Although previously believed locally extinct, it was rediscovered in 2001 in forest reserves of the Ahafo Region. It has since disappeared there due to habitat loss caused by unsustainable logging and wildfires, clear evidence of the severity of the threat now facing this beautiful bird in its only remaining habitat.
The Nyamebe Bepo Forest Reserve is the only known location left where the white-necked rock fowl can be found and easily seen. In fact, it is the most reliable site in the whole world for seeing these enigmatic and elusive birds.
But this lone habitat is imminently threatened by ongoing approvals for logging permits that cover the specific site where these colonies exist. Our checks show that this site has recently been converted from protection to production status, signaling the risk their habitat faces. Right now, harvesting stock surveys are being undertaken at the very sites of the Picathartes colonies.
There is no doubt that conversion of their habitats into logging concessions will severely threaten the existence of this beautiful bird in Ghana, and undermine any potential benefits they may bring, such as the huge potential for wildlife tourism.
Permitting their habitat to be logged is in breach of Ghana’s 1971 Wildlife Conservation Regulation L.I.685 that lists Picathartes as “absolutely protected’ by Ghanaian law. Damaging their habitat also goes against Ghana’s commitments to protect nature under the recently agreed Global Biodiversity Framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
As one of the five rarest and most endangered species across the entire continent of Africa, we are calling for a halt to all progress on logging permits in and around the habitat of the precious white-necked rock fowl.
We call on all stakeholders – the Forestry Commission, local communities, and all Ghanaians – to engage and seek solutions to conserving the habitats of this rare species and to develop sustainable solutions that protect this bird and benefit the local communities.
Filming the enigmatic and elusive Picathartes Bird. Credit: Bosom Pixels