How capacity building creates real conservation impacts
Caleb Ofori and David Kwarteng are two remarkable Ghanaians who have always had a passion for biodiversity, frogs in particular. This is their story of determination and success in the conservation of endangered species.
In 2007 Caleb was chosen out of over 300 applicants to attend a training course in Uganda, run by the Tropical Biology Association (TBA). This was at an essential moment in Caleb’s career and gave him both the skills and confidence to start designing his own projects and collect crucial data. After his TBA course, Caleb Ofori started his own non-profit organisation because he wanted to make a real impact in conservation. He said, ‘I am just one person but I wanted to change things over night so I decided to focus on the animals everyone else was neglecting.’
One of these neglected species was the Togo slippery frog. This critically endangered frog was thought to be extinct until Caleb found a number of them in a forest in Eastern Ghana. From here, his conservation story really began to gain momentum. Caleb joined forces with fellow TBA alumnus David Kwarteng and began working with local communities who live around the forest where these frogs live. Together they’ve been training youth groups and working with government agencies to change both heart and minds about the importance of conserving biodiversity.
Caleb Ofori. Photo © Herp-Ghana
David Kwarteng. Photo © Herp-Ghana
In 2018, their hard work led to the legal designation of a protected nature reserve, a huge win for the pair. The reserve is called the Onepone Endangered Species Refuge, named after the traditional name of the two communities who donated land for its creation. It is providing 847 acres of habitat for the critically endangered Togo slippery frog and 11 other threatened species. The Onepone Endangered Species Refuge is also supporting local livelihoods by providing clean water to the local villagers. A mutual benefit for nature and people alike!
Currently, Caleb and team are working with two additional communities to expand the existing reserve by 1500 acres and establish a sustainable use buffer of 10,000 acres around the reserve. They’re also restoring 100 acres of forest to expand this precious habitat for the Togo Slippery frog and other vitally important, but neglected species.
Caleb told us, ‘I would not be here without the Tropical Biology Association.’
Togo slippery frog. Photo © Herp-Ghana
If you would like to read more about the Onepone Endangered Species Refuge/Caleb and David’s work you can here.
Caleb has also won a Whitley Award for his work ensuring the protection of the critically endangered Togo slippery frog. He spoke to BBC Africa What’s New? about his work and you can see the interview here.
Tropical Biology Association
Founded in 1993 the Tropical Biology Association (TBA) is based in Cambridge, UK and Nairobi, Kenya. The TBA is a founding member of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, as well as a co-organiser of the Student Conference on Conservation Science.
The TBA training enables scientists, project managers and educators, working in the tropics, to manage and safeguard biodiversity, long term. With a strong goal of ‘capacity building for conservation’, they have launched and supported the careers of over 2,000 conservation champions: half of them from 29 countries in Africa and Madagascar.