Biomonitoring progress in Sapo National Park

Robert Howard, part of the Fauna and Flora International (FFI) team carrying out the biomonitoring programme in Sapo National Park sent us this blog: 

The biomonitoring programme established at Sapo National Park is now in its third month with some encouraging results.

 Biomonitoring data collection

Signs of elephant, including dung and tracks have frequently been found and on one survey John Konie and his team have heard elephants calling.  Tracks of leopard have also been recorded, and red and black and white colobus are regularly seen in numbers of 15 or more.  Surprisingly primates and duikers are still often recorded in areas close to the illegal gold mining sites inside Sapo where miners also engage in shotgun hunting.

Zebra duiker 

black backed duiker

 Nut cracking stones used by chimpanzees have also been noted in several locations, either on the transects or on trails to the survey areas.

Stone and nuts cracked by chimpanzee

The pygmy hippo has also been recorded on three of the eight transects but these are single individuals only.  At the end of August Dr. Pim van Hooft, a genetics lecturer from Wageningen University visited Sapo to elucidate the possibility of collecting and analysing dung samples of pygmy hippos.  During a two day field trip into the park and along the Sinoe River Dr. Hooft was able to collect some fresh dung samples of pygmy hippos and teach several rangers how to collect the samples. 

Dr. Pim Van Hooft and rangers collecting pygmy hippo dung 

He has since taken the samples back to Wageningen University for analysis.

The end of October will mark three months of biomonitoring.  At this stage of the programme Mr. Konie will begin learning how to analyse the data on the computer and draw conclusions from the information derived from the surveys.

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