Ghana: The Forester On a Quest to End Superstition About Ghana’s Threatened Owls #AfricaClimateHope

By keeping rodents under control, owls help maintain the natural balance of Ghana’s forests. But superstitious beliefs have led to attacks on the birds. Kwabena Poku Bosompim, regional director of the Forestry Commission in the Ahafo region of Ghana, is on a mission to save the country’s owls.

Speaking to RFI, Bosompim explained what motivated him to fight for these nighttime predators who play a key role in protecting the ecosystems of Ghana’s forests.

“A church in my vicinity killed an owl and dismembered it. It was horrible. As a result of what I saw, I decided to do something to protect them, as their survival is being threatened because of superstition,” he said.

The owls, he explained, protect forests by hunting and killing mice and other rodents that damage the wider ecosystem.

Fighting for survival

In Ghana owls are often regarded as malevolent and harbingers of bad luck, which has resulted in their destruction in many areas of the country.

“Because it is a nocturnal animal people believe it is associated with witchcraft and given any opportunity, they will harm the owl,” Bosompim explained.

The result, he said, is that many species are facing extinction.

Ghana has a diverse owl population with as many as 17 identified species, among them the barn owl, African scops owl, pearl-spotted owlet, African wood owl and greyish eagle-owl.

Many of these species are now on the brink of extinction.

Bosompim, however, says he is taking steps to change this.

His mission is to educate the public about the significance of owls in the ecosystem and the urgent necessity of protecting these magnificent birds.

He is also calling for an end to deforestation, which is reducing owls’ natural habitat.

Bosompim travels deep into various forests to make educational videos, which he publishes on his YouTube channel Bosompixel.

By fostering a deeper understanding of these birds’ ecological importance, he says, he is hoping to change people’s perceptions of owls.

Changing minds

“I love owls and I am creating that awareness and sensitisation for the protection of owls in Ghana,” he said.

“I realised that owls are important for the ecosystem … I also realised there is a misconception about owls often rooted in superstition.”

Lydia Basiebon, who lives in the Ahafo region, says she used to share those beliefs about owls – but not anymore.

“Since I was taught about owls and their importance from Bosompim, my attitude towards owls has changed drastically,” she told RFI.

“I believe if more is done to educate Ghanaians they will also change their mind.”