Bush meat sellers who ply their trade along the Anyinam-Nkawkaw stretch, have appealed to the government and higher authorities at the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, to advise their officials to desist from "unlawfully" harassing them.
Expressing their worry in an interview with Class News on the sidelines of a stakeholder meeting at Anyinam in the Atiwa East District on how stakeholders could help conserve wildlife in the Atewa Forest, the game traders expressed worry over the rampant seizure of their game.
"As Forestry or Wildlife officials, at least one should see them in their official uniforms working, but no, these ones would normally be seen returning from funerals and stopping by to use stern moves to collect our game without first requesting for permit.
"On days that they even ask for permits, they rather request for hunting permit, when, in fact, we are not hunters but just traders. They assume we’re ignorant of the law and our rights. Nothing we say to them falls on good ears, because they are often escorted by police officers," one of the traders complained.
While advising the wildlife officials to act professionally, the game traders also expressed worry about media reportage on their trade.
“We don't sell poisonous meat. The meat we sell have nothing to do with Ebola and other diseases but the media give false information concerning the game that we sell. Such information will kill our business,” another trader lamented, stressing that they are ready to succumb to FDA testing.
The bush meat traders numbering 20 were brought together to brainstorm on strategic ways to conserve and preserve wildlife species, especially endangered primates, in the Atewa Forest.
The brainstorming session formed part of a Presbyterian University College, Ghana (PUCG) project on conservation of endangered primate species in three forest reserves in the country, including the Atewa, Cape Three Points and Tank-Off Forests.
The 16-month project is being implemented by the PUCG with a $44,000 funding from Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund with focus on building capacities for all stakeholders living and working within the forest enclave, including wildlife law enforcers, hunters and game traders.
The traders acknowledged the need to adhere to the wildlife law.
They gave the assurance that they would sensitise hunters from whom they buy their meat, to stop killing certain wildlife species including the endangered primates.
They called on the government to establish abattoirs mainly for game traders and hunters.
According to them, that would better help regulate their activities to well preserve and conserve the nation’s forests and wildlife species.