1. Aspect of ecology, biology, socio-economics and trade dynamics of elasmobranch fisheries in Ghana’s West Coast.

The proposed project aims to improve the conservation and management of the sharks and rays in Ghana’s West Coast through research and community participatory approaches. The decline of these species is driven by overexploitation resulting from the high demand for their meat and fins, coupled with marine habitat degradation, pollution, and climate change. There are no scientific baseline data including catch rates, ecology, biology and composition of these species in Ghana. This lack of data impedes efforts to develop any comprehensive conservation strategy to protect these species. Consequently, the project seeks to investigate catch patterns, distribution, composition, and insights into the biology, socio-economic and trade characteristics of elasmobranchs in Ghana. The results of this project are crucial for devising conservation strategies for these species and also providing some of the only information from the Eastern Atlantic for developing a global conservation strategy for sharks and rays. An overarching goal of this project is the use of diverse community-driven programs to create awareness on the plight of sharks and rays in Ghana.

2. Ecology and Conservation of the endangered endemic Chrysichthys walkeri in the Pra Basin, Ghana.

Chrysichthys walkeri is only known from Pra River Basin in Ghana. The species has been classified as Endangered owing to its small area of occupancy (AOO) of less than 500 km2. The population is decreasing rapidly resulting from human-led disturbances such as mining activities, commercial timber harvesting, poor farming and domestic sewage discharge in the Pra Basin. Of all these threats, illegal alluvial gold mining in the Pra Basin is the key driver of the rapid population reduction of this species. These threats coupled with the lack of key baseline information on the species calls for immediate conservation measures. Consequently, this project will provide the first comprehensive information on the population status, ecology, and extent of the threat of Chrysichthys walkeri. This information is critical in developing conservation policy and publicizing the conservation needs of this endemic and threatened species. The major goal of this project is to garner grassroots support which involves small scale miners, fisherfolks, farmers and students and other key stakeholders for the conservation of the species, other sympatric freshwater fish and wildlife species and their associated habitat- the Pra River Basin.

3. Freshwater Habitats and Odonata Conservation: Research and Community Education in Pra Basin, Southern Ghana.

In the Pra River Basin, human-led degradation is increasing and threatening wetlands at an alarming rate. This basin is home to some of the poorest and least developed communities in Southern Ghana, and many of these people depend solely on these wetlands for their livelihoods. This makes conservation and raising awareness of threats and pressures on freshwaters an urgent matter. Also, Southern Ghana still lacks comprehensive field surveys as highlighted by recent discoveries e.g. Seidu et al., 2017). Many areas within southern Ghana remain virtually unknown from the standpoint of odonata, and this is certainly the case for Pra Basin. Hence, this study will provide important biological survey data for a poorly known area.

As part of this, we will develop and test a full DBI for Southern Ghana – the West African DBI (WADBI) and photographic guide to Odonata. This will bring significant enhancement for Odonata conservation, as it will broaden the network of dragonfly lovers and enthusiasts. Data from dragonfly enthusiasts are critical for providing baseline diversity and phenology information across a broad range of sites, and dragonfly enthusiasts also form a critical constituency in favour of both influencing conservation policy and implementing grassroots conservation approaches. An overarching goal is to raise awareness and train local communities in wetland conservation. For the lasting sustainability of freshwaters and their diversity in Ghana, we will also continue to provide support and mentoring to university students on freshwater and Odonata research, including instructions in identification and monitoring protocols.