In March we’d introduced the White-necked Rock Fowl in our Bird of the Day series, and then neglected to tell the full story behind this charismatic bird. Shame on us! But better late than never I’m happy to share it now.
West Africa’s Upper Guinean forest block stretches along the coast from Sierra Leone to Ghana, and along with the Congolian forest block is considered a biodiversity hotspot. Up until the mid-1960s-early 1970s it is believed there were at least 200-300 breeding pairs of the endemic white-necked picathartes in Ghana alone. But up until 10 years ago there hadn’t been reports of the bird for nearly 4 decades, leading conservationists to believe it eradicated from the region.
Our colleague John Mason from the Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC) in Ghana has provided us with this fascinating story:
Efforts to locate rockfowl were not successful until 2003, when a research team from Louisiana State University, working in collaboration with NCRC and WD, re-discovered rockfowl in Ghana. A single individual was mist-netted and one breeding site was recorded in the Subim Forest Reserve. Subsequently the Ghana Wildlife Society located two additional colonies near this first site. The Wildlife Division located two more colonies, giving a total of five discovered colonies in the Subim and Ayum Forest Reserves prior to this recent survey. This is an entirely new population for Ghana as these sites were not mentioned in any of the earlier reports on the species.
…The area communities are very enthusiastic about the discovery and the potential benefits that conservation and tourism could bring to them….Planning is underway to establish a long-term conservation, research and avi-tourism project focused on this important population. The project will significantly enhance the conservation status of the White-necked rockfowl in Ghana.
This is all encouraging news! Our regular readers will already have seen evidence of Ghana’s amazing bird diversity posted here by Douglas Bruce, who Crist introduced a few months ago. I’m confident we’ll be sharing more conservation and collaboration stories about Ghana in the coming months!