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The Black Volta Project Print E-mail


 The Aberdeen University Black Volta 1997 Expedition was an extraordinary project. A large team of very enthusiastic students descended on Bui National Park in northwestern Ghana to carry out surveys of various animals. Previously the park had attracted no interest whatsoever from the scientific community in all 26 years of its existence, but a great deal of attention as the proposed site of a hydroelectric dam that would flood almost the entire protected area. With little money and equipment, but an enormous amount of help from Ghana Wildlife Department staff and local villagers they built treehouses and a sophisticated campsite, repaired roads, canoes and trucks, counted hippopotamus and monitor lizards, studied the diversity of bat, rodent, butterfly, dragonfly and fish populations, and made inventories of the reptiles, birds and other animals found in the park. Not only did they get poachers and wildlife staff to work together, they caused them to dance and sing. All this against a background of dire poverty and pestilent blackflies.

 It seems unnecessary to dwell on the accomplishments of the team, save to say that everything was due to the great confidence placed in the team by sponsors who were not deterred by the ambitious aims of the project. Rather, attention needs to be drawn to the limitations of the work outlined in this report. Bui National Park covers 1,821km2 of which a small fraction was explored by expedition members. The entire eastern riverbank and all the park from north of 8o22N remains totally unsurveyed. This project initially set out to conduct surveys throughout the course of the Black Volta and succeeded in surveying just 12km of river. Wet season flooding of the riverine forest prevented access to a great deal of the riverbank by foot and the terrain is unsuitable for vehicles. We were aware that the wet season was not the ideal time to carry out this study, but decided that a study at any time of year by a large and enthusiastic team of volunteers would probably collect more data than any other survey likely to be carried out prior to destruction of the park by the dam project. Our study has demonstrated that Bui National Park contains very important riverine forest and grassland habitats harbouring a diverse faunal community that contains many species that are threatened or endangered in West Africa. The study has also highlighted the poor state of taxonomic knowledge of West African fauna, especially in the English language. The work done by the team warrants further research in this area by independent researchers.

We extend our thanks to all our friends on the Black Volta and wish them health and prosperity.

PRICE £25 (£5 for African nationals with addresses in Africa)
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The Black Volta Project was sponsored by:

Supported by Barclays PLC / Royal Geographical Society



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Savannah Monitor Book


Our pet-owners' guide to savannah monitor lizard is the first ever written by people who have studied the animals in the wild and bred them in captivity. There are at least seven books in print about the savannah monitor, but we think this is the only one worth reading! Last few available 










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The Butaan Project
Butaan Jump from Incredible Heights!
Butaan jump from incredible heights, land on the ground with a huge crash and walk away uninjured. Jumps to the ground from 30m were recorded by Auffenberg and our spool and line tracking suggests lizards regularly jump from heights of 4-15m when they are unmolested. The amazing jumping power of the butaan is undocumented in any other monitors lizard and may be one more unique aspects of the Putras Biawak group.


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