Studies suggest that, in 1880, Ghana’s forests were intact.
Data from recent years, however, show that the country has only around 4.2 million acres of forests left.
Moreover, most of this territory is located within protected areas, and only half is fairly suitable for animals to thrive in.
Consequently, many of the animals that once were abundant in the territories of Ghana and the neighboring countries are now either extinct or on the verge of extinction.
However, habitat loss and degradation aren’t the only threats to animals.
Many species are endangered as a consequence of hunting or poaching for the pet trade and commercial use.
Besides this, there are few conservation efforts for some endangered species, further contributing to the population decline.
That’s why spreading the word and acknowledging that these animals are on the brink of extinction is of the essence.
Therefore, without further ado, let’s discuss some of Ghana’s endangered and critically endangered species.
The chimpanzee is a great ape species native to Africa.
These animals are social creatures, living in well-structured communities of up to 150 members.
Moreover, they are known to possess a certain degree of intelligence because they can remember symbols and use various tools.
Some individuals even passed the mirror test, which means they’re capable of being self-aware.
Chimpanzees caught the scientists’ attention in 1986 when the species was first assessed as vulnerable.
Their population didn’t “enjoy” any increase over these years, as they’re still listed as endangered.
It is believed that, by 2050, their population will suffer a reduction of more than 50%.
Supposedly, Ghana hosts only the Pan troglodytes verus subspecies, commonly called the West African chimpanzee.
Its population across its whole range is estimated to be somewhere between 18,000 and 65,000 individuals.
The main threats to the chimpanzee population include poaching, habitat loss and degradation, and diseases.
Fortunately, the species is protected by national and international laws.
On the other hand, the laws aren’t much help because of poor management.
It is considered that only proper management of forest areas will help the chimpanzee population long-term.
9. Forest Elephant
The forest elephant, or, as it’s often called, the African forest elephant, is native to West Africa, where it inhabits humid forests.
The species is also found in the Congo Basin. They’re social animals that form communities of around 20 individuals.
The species was assessed as critically endangered in 2020 after scientists concluded that its population suffered a reduction of around 80% over the past 93 years.
Besides, their population is severely fragmented in West Africa.
A primary threat to their existence is represented by poaching for ivory, which has significantly increased since 2008.
Moreover, habitat loss and degradation highly affect the forest elephant population.
Numerous conservation efforts are in motion, including legal protection, habitat management, and anti-poaching management.
8. Giant Ground Pangolin
Smutsia gigantea is the largest pangolin species.
Pangolins are also called scaly anteaters and are known for their armored bodies covered in large, brownish-reddish scales consisting of keratin.
The giant pangolin measures around 4.6 feet long and weighs 72.6 pounds. Males are slightly larger than females.
Their population suffered a reduction of around 50% between 1974 and 2019, and it’s still constantly decreasing.
However, specific information is not available.
Since the species is nocturnal and solitary, deciding on a specific population number has been difficult.
Poaching and hunting are the primary reasons for such a significant decline.
Studies show that, between 2012 and 2017, more than 13,000 pounds of giant ground pangolin scales were seized from trade shipments.
This equals around 1,700 specimens.
Another major threat is habitat loss, which is primarily caused by high deforestation rates, especially in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, which are at the top in terms of forest loss.
7. Togo Slippery Frog
The Togo slippery frog is scientifically known as Conraua derooi.
It’s a large frog, measuring 3-3.2 inches. It has prominent eyes and a small snout.
The species is found only in Ghana and Togo.
Their population is steadily declining. Scientists believe that only 249 mature individuals are left.
The Onepone Reserve in Ghana is known to host the key Togo slippery frog population.
A primary threat to the Togo slippery frog population is habitat loss caused by various plantations, human settlements, and logging.
Additionally, harvesting for the pet trade and water pollution are other threats causing a rapid population decline.
This species is of direct concern for the Onepone Endangered Species Reserve, which is protected and managed by the NGO Herp Ghana.
However, further surveys and conservation efforts are required to stabilize the population numbers.
6. White-Bellied Pangolin
The white-bellied pangolin is also called the tree pangolin or the three-cusped pangolin.
It’s a small species, measuring around 13-17 inches long (without the tail). It’s an arboreal, nocturnal pangolin found primarily in lowland tropical moist forests.
The species was listed as endangered in 2019 after scientists concluded their population had declined by around 40% in 21 years.
The reasons behind this significant decline are habitat loss and degradation caused by extensive deforestation and overexploitation for traditional medicine and bushmeat.
While the species is listed in CITES Appendix I, more effective management of protected areas is required.
5. Slender-Snouted Crocodile
The slender-snouted crocodile is native to West Africa, Ghana included.
Naturally, it gets its name from the long, slender snout, which serves as a means to catch aquatic invertebrates and fish.
They’re not too large, measuring only around 7-8 feet, so they rarely feed on larger prey.
The IUCN Red List first assessed the species in 1994, when it became vulnerable.
It is now considered critically endangered, as only 1,000-20,000 individuals are believed to be left.
The last assessment is based on scientists considering that the West African slender-snouted crocodile population suffered a reduction of 70-90%, and there’s little hope for recovery.
While their closest relative, the one living in Central Africa, is believed to recover a bit or at least stop the steady decrease, the West African population can go extinct soon if no significant measures are applied.
This steady population decline is historically associated with commercial skin hunting, habitat destruction, and hunting for bushmeat markets.
Unfortunately, there’s no specific conservation effort directed toward the species at the moment, but organizations are trying to monitor their habitat.
Moreover, there’s an initiative in Côte d’Ivoire regarding captive breeding.
4. Roloway Monkey
The Roloway monkey is found only in tropical West Africa.
It’s an Old World monkey species that spends most of its time in the trees of West Africa, being more common in Ghana, although some individuals are found in Côte d’Ivoire as well.
The species’ relationship with the IUCN Red List goes back to 1994, when it was first assessed as endangered.
Over the years, it became critically endangered, returned to its previous status, and then again became critically endangered.
Nevertheless, their population has suffered a reduction of around 80% between 1991 and 2018, and, at the moment, some scientists believe there are less than 2,000 mature individuals within their range.
In contrast, other studies couldn’t confirm their presence in some localities.
For example, Ghana had no confirmed surviving groups in Bia and Nini-Suhien national parks.
Their disappearance is believed to be linked to the commercial bushmeat trade, accumulating around 1,000 tons of meat sold in the markets.
This drastic decline is attributed to habitat loss, hunting, and degradation.
Besides this, Roloway monkeys fall prey to other animals, which further contributes to population decline.
Unfortunately, there aren’t too many conservation efforts directed toward this species.
Although the Roloway monkey is one of the world’s 25 most threatened primate species, there’s still much conservation work to be done.
3. Home’s Hinge-Back Tortoise
Being endemic to Africa, the home’s hinge-back tortoise is found in Ghana, Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, and Togo.
Its natural habitat includes tropical lowland forests and tropical or subtropical swamps.
The species is omnivorous, hunting either during the day or at dawn or dusk.
The species was first assessed as vulnerable in 2006 but reassessed as critically endangered in 2019 after surveys showed that their population suffered a significant decline.
Studies show that Home’s hinge-back tortoises are found in small numbers in Ghana’s Pra Suhein Forest Reserve and Kakum National Park.
Threats to their population include habitat loss and human exploitation, although the former’s impact is significantly stronger.
It’s believed that 26% of their natural habitat in Ghana was destroyed between 1990 and 2006.
Ghana protects this species via a community by-law; other protective measures are taken in other regions where the tortoises are found.
The species is also listed in CITES Appendix II, which forbids international exportation.
2. White-Naped Mangabey
The white-naped mangabey is a sooty mangabey subspecies found only in Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Côte d’Ivoire.
It’s an old-world monkey with a light-colored stomach and chest, while the rest is grayish.
These creatures live in groups of around 70-120 individuals and are often preyed upon by eagles, leopards, vipers, and chimpanzees.
However, the species’ primary threat is human action – hunting for commercial bushmeat trade and local consumption, habitat loss and fragmentation caused by logging, and killing.
The subspecies was historically present from western Côte d’Ivoire to the west of Ghana’s Volta River.
Today, however, their range reduced significantly.
The Ghanaian population suffered a tremendous habitat loss caused by extensive deforestation, transforming the land into rubber plantations.
As such, the white-naped mangabey is now considered endangered, and its population is constantly decreasing.
Specialists believe it has suffered a reduction of 50% in the last 27 years.
1. Miss Waldron’s Red Colobus
Miss Waldron’s red colobus is a monkey species native to West Africa.
It can be distinguished from other monkeys by its bright red fur around its thighs and forehead.
These animals are so rare that it’s believed no photo of one exists!
In fact, specialists advise that no field workers have seen a Miss Waldron’s red colobus for around 40 years, and the last call believed to have belonged to one was heard in 2008.
The species was listed as critically endangered in 2016, and its population constantly declines.
These monkeys are found only in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, but since their population declined by more than 80% over the last 30 years, their current range is reduced.
Major threats to their existence include habitat loss and hunting.