The event, which took place at the Sissala East Municipal Assembly Conference hall, was held on 29th January, 2021.
The short but colorful event saw in attendance about 100 participants and includes, the representatives of the veterinary service, environmental, Ghana Police service, hunters, pet owners, wild life farmers, private zoo owners, bush meat sellers, Ghana Health Service, media, forestry commission and wild life guards.
The Gbelle Resource Reserve reserve being one of the largest natural resource reserves in the country is located in the upper west region of Ghana. The reserve covers an area of about 556 square km of land mass and thus bounded by the Sissala East Municipal and the Sissala West District. This park is a hub of a lot of game species and other tourist packages such as bird watching, hiking, wild camping and so forth
In an opening remarks by the park manager, Dr.Nana Owusu Ansah, he disclosed that, as part of their collaboration with stakeholders to protect both wildlife animals and humans, this sensitization forum has been organized for wild life enterprise actors on the zoonotic diseases as lack of knowledge in this could result in an outbreak of one of the zoonotic diseases; since there is an up-surge taste for bush meat among the general populace.
According to management of the reserve and hence represented by the park manager in the person of Dr Nana Owusu Ansah, Poaching has being one of the biggest challenges of the reserve as activities of poachers continually result in decrease in the game population and subsequently their visibility to visitors or tourist and thus making them unable to compete with other national parks such as the Mole National Park. But, this he said does not leave out an option of engaging with hunters whose activities could be regulated by the management and in the long run would help position the park in a better position for visitor attraction.
According to the led presenter for the sensitization forum, Dr.Polycap Maabier who is the deputy park manager and also a wild life veterinarian by specialty, wild life is a reservoir of zoonotic diseases and therefore agents of transferring these diseases to humans if not properly managed.
In summary, he took participants through mode of transmission of these zoonotic diseases, factors for the diseases manifesting, risk of wildlife enterprise actors, bad hunting methods and what can be done to curb likelihood of experiencing any zoonotic disease outbreak.
Dr. Polycap stipulated that, an estimated 60% of the emerging human infections are zoonotic in nature and among these pathogens more than 70% originated from wildlife species. He added that,Wild animals are complexly connected with humans, domesticated animals, and environmental components, and thereby directly contribute to the transmission and maintenance of different infectious diseases.
He went further to assert that, the cultural and economic use of wild species also creates new health problems and that considerable progress has been made in the control of diseases of domesticated animals and thus not inculcating the same interest in wild species.
In conclusion, he elaborated on bad hunting methods practiced in the area and how it could lead to the transmission of any of these zoonotic diseases. However, an opportunity was given to representatives of the veterinary service and environmental health service to educate participants how to call on them to inspect their meat or pets for public health safety.
In a presentation made by the Municipal Police Commander ASP Kumpeh, he took participants through the processes to acquiring a license to own a weapon especially those used in hunting and also the processes involve in the renewal of license or change of ownership of those guns. Participants were given opportunity to ask questions after the commander’s presentation.
According to Mr. Alex Bapula the Municipal Health Director and in his presentation, studies or reports shows that coronavirus emerged from the consumption of wild animals somewhere in China. He briefed the participants on what actually constitute zoonotic diseases by mentioning that, any of these diseases that can be transmitted from animals to human beings either through direct contact of indirectly consuming their food or water or the environment. He further recounted previous diseases that are zoonotic and took the world by storm such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, SARS, Swine flu, H1N1, Salmonellosis etc.
He concluded his presentation by categorizing those are at risk of contracting any of these diseases as well as suggesting some preventive and control methods. Then again, participants were given an opportunity to seek for clarification from the presenter and responses given.
Dr.Polycap closed the event by imploring on hunters to always seek for permits from the Wild Life Division before going on their hunting expeditions and also make sure to license their guns.