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Ghana:Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary — an Ecotourism Success Story
Ghana:Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary — an Ecotourism Success Story

Wooden signs point down well-maintained paths into the bush at the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary in the Volta Region near Hohoe. The trails wind into the bush where hundreds of Mona monkeys spy on visitors from high above in branches. The sanctuary allows tourists to directly interact with Mona monkeys.

Before the sanctuary was established in 1993, the local population hunted the Mona monkey for its meat. But now, the monkeys are revered and protected and the sanctuary provides a stream of revenue into the area. Foster Asempa, one of the four tour guides at the sanctuary, said that Tafi Atome generates about 10,000 cedis for the local community a year. And that money goes to fund development projects in Tafi Atome, where 1,500 people live.

The Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary is an example of a successful eco-tourism project that began through cooperation by the Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC), Peace Corps Ghana, SNV (Netherlands Development Organisation) and the Ghana Tourist Board. The sanctuary's success lies in its ability to generate money for the community while preserving the Mona monkey population that lives there and educating the local community about conservation.

About 350 monkeys live in the sanctuary in troops of 60. The troops are territorial and led by a dominant male. When visitors come to the sanctuary, guides like Mr. Asempa lead them into the bush armed with bananas. The guides call to the monkeys to announce their presence. After noticing the sounds of the guides and the bananas they bring along, the monkeys move in along branches to surround the paths with their eyes focused on the yellow fruit.

The monkeys are acclimated to interacting with visitors although they should still be treated as wild animals. One of the unique experiences the sanctuary provides to visitors is the chance to hold a banana while the monkeys reach down to peel and eat it in seconds. The monkeys will even try their best to catch any bananas tossed into the air.

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