Wednesday, 4 July 2012


We walked from here
We took a taxi from Beyin to Ankasa National Park, a large area of virgin evergreen rainforest right on the border with Ivory Coast. Tourism has yet to really take off here – certainly not on the scale on Kakum – and the road to the park took all our taxi driver’s skill, and at times good fortune to negotiate. He scratched his head continually as we skidded through the wheel-high mud, and went through the full reportoire of Ghanaian 'eh's, 'oh's and 'ah's. 
Ankasa is a biodiversity hotspot, particularly for its plant diversity. During our two-hour hike, Kofi, our guide pointed out different trees: Bako, a slow-growing species that feeds lots of animals; Kontan, the ‘arrogant tree’ whose vast buttresses take up lots of space. He also identified birdcalls as we walked along quietly: a yellow-billed turaco, pied hornbills and several others.

The wildlife that lives in Ankasa, which includes forest elephants, is rarely seen. The park warns tourists of this at the gate, suggesting they use their ears, nose and hands to experience the forest. This, combined with its distance from Ghana’s major towns, means tourism is unlikely to expand any time soon.

And maybe that’s a good thing. The forest is well protected legally, and its biodiversity attracts plenty of international funding. The local communities all appreciate the forest’s role in supplying their water, so there is little encroachment or poaching. And as we drove away – the only visitors to have gone that week – the terrible road was reassuring. Another barrier that leave Ankasa and its inhabitants in peace and quiet.


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