Ghana in West Africa stretches from the mangrove swamps of its Atlantic Ocean coast to semi-arid northern savannas. Supporting a number of prime national parks and preserves, it’s a fine destination for the wildlife enthusiast, bridging as it does deep-forest and open-savanna/grassland species. The country still harbors populations of such impressive beasts as African elephants and lions, but more numerous and widespread are som
Identify the African leopard by its unmistakable spotted coat and muscular, low-slung body. Leopards are the second-heftiest of Africa’s big cats, after the lion; a big male may weigh close to 150 pounds. Unlike lions, they tend to be devotedly solitary and retiring, and, courtesy of formidable arboreal abilities, frequently stash their prey in the crooks of trees to keep it away from their larger relatives, not to mention spotted hyenas and jackals. Powerful and lithe, they’ll snatch anything from fish and frogs to baboons, impala and buffalo calves. Leopards roam widely in Ghana and tolerate human presence to a surprising degree; they readily inhabit the margins of towns and villages. Highly opportunistic and adaptable, they may be glimpsed — despite their overall elusiveness — from Bui National Park in the rainforests of the southwest to Mole National Park in the savannas of the northwest.
Identify the African wildcat by its diminutive size and mottled coat. Less celebrated than its bigger African relatives — the lion, leopard, cheetah and caracal, for example — the African wildcat is nonetheless the continent’s most widely distributed feline, and well-represented in Ghana. Taxonomically, it’s often lumped together with the European wildcat and the housecat. African wildcats commonly prowl savannas, grasslands and open woodlands and pounce on everything from frogs to hares. Despite their wide distribution, it takes a sharp eye to spot one; scanning grassy flats and brushy areas at dawn or dusk is a good approach.
Identify the retiring bushbuck by its reddish-brown coat pocked with white stripes and spots, and spine of coarse, stiff hairs; the bucks sport fairly straight, whorled horns.The bushbuck is a small, prettily patterned antelope broadly distributed in sub-Saharan Africa; it’s found across Ghana in both dense forests and open woodlands and savannas. Basically solitary, bushbucks both browse and graze on a variety of shrubs, forbs, herbs and grasses. They are a favored prey of the leopard.
Key out the Guinea baboon by its unmistakable muzzle and dusty-coated, burly frame. Sometimes considered a separate species, Guinea baboons are often defined as a subspecies of the so-called savanna baboon, a heavyset, dog-faced monkey widespread in sub-Saharan Africa outside heavy rainforest. These intelligent, volatile and powerful primates maintain a complicated social structure, like humans; and, like humans, they are rigorously omnivorous, feasting on everything from fruits and nuts to small mammals and ungulate calves. They are commonly seen in protected reserves like Mole National Park.
Distinguish Ghana’s monitor lizards by their sheer mass. These hefty reptiles, among the more formidable of the country’s native creatures, claim an omnivorous and opportunistic disposition. Most broadly distributed is the Nile monitor, a slender but tough reptile that may be 8 or 9 feet long. Shorter but stockier is the savanna monitor, most common in central and northern Ghana. Both species eat eggs, small mammals, snakes, birds and nearly anything else they can overpower.
ewhat smaller animals showcasing their own beauty and ecological significance.