Africa is famous for its wildlife, especially the big five—lions, elephants, leopards, cape buffaloes and rhinos. But the big five are most common in the south of the continent. We saw all of them there when we travelled overland through Africa back in 2009.
This year we travelled up north, in West Africa only. It’s that bit of Africa that bulges out on the left side. There aren’t quite so many animals up there, but there are more than enough to satisfy wildlife lovers.
In 2009 and again this year, we visited Mole National Park, Ghana’s largest wildlife refuge. Mole (pronounced Mo-lay) is home to 93 species of mammal, including elephants, hippos, buffalos and warthogs. It’s an important preserve for African antelopes, such as kobs, waterbucks, bushbucks, oribis, roans, hartebeests and two kinds of duiker.
The park is also popular with primates. There are black-and-white colobus monkeys, green vervets, patas monkeys and olive baboons (also called Anubis baboons).
On both visits, we saw plenty of baboons and made a point of steering clear of them. They are aggressive, hungry and thieves. While the park has motel-type accommodation and a restaurant, we chose to camp. That meant we shared the area with hungry, opportunistic baboons. You can’t leave food or even a tube of toothpaste in your tent because they’ll break in and take it.
Back in 2009, a baboon came in through the skylight of the van we were riding in. He was after a chocolate bar one of our companions was holding. The driver beat him off with a club that he carries for just that purpose.
Beyond mammals, Mole has 33 species of reptiles and 334 species of birds. Sadly my telephoto lens conked out early in the trip, so the birds in my pictures are the size of a flea.
You’d think seeing all the wildlife and landscapes would be enough, but there were two unexpected events at Mole.
First, a TV crew turned up at the park (mostly because of the second unexpected event). Gary, who we have been lucky enough to travel with repeatedly in Africa, India, and London to Sydney, was interviewed about his experiences in Ghana. Turns out he was interviewed for TV on a previous visit to the country. He must be a media magnet.
Second was meeting the 2018 Miss Ghana Tourism Ambassador and her two princesses. Apparently these three women are travelling the country to promote the most popular destinations. Elorm Ntemm is the ambassador. The two princesses are Maud Kunorvi (1st) and Ama Owusuaa (2nd).
The 2019 Miss Ghana Tourism Ambassador will be crowned in August.
A bit more about Mole
Mole dates back to 1958. That was when land was set aside for a wildlife refuge. In 1971, the small human population was relocated from the area, and the land was designated as a national park.
The park is poorly funded to prevent poaching, but professional and armed rangers guard the animals.
The Mole and Lovi rivers flow through the park during and after the rainy season. The park gets about 1000ml (40 inches) of rain a year between April and mid-October.
About the pics here
This post includes pics from 2009 and 2019. Ten years ago, we visited in the month of May. That was after the rainy season had begun, although I don’t remember it raining while we were there. This year, we visited in March, at the very end of the dry season. You can probably immediately figure out what year a pic was taken, but I have added dates for your convenience.