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Factors for the presence of avian scavengers in Accra and Kumasi, Ghana

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Avian scavengers are common and active in the social life of southern Ghana, yet few studies consider both the ecological factors for avian presence and the avian–human interactions from human gender and age perspectives, and compare avian behaviour in both human-dominated and natural landscapes. This paper examines interactions between people, hooded vultures and pied crows in Accra and Kumasi, Ghana using both ecological and social research methods. Land use was classified for species presence into meat and waste production, vegetable marketing, non-food production, residential and central business areas, green spaces and rural areas. One hundred and eighty-four people were interviewed, classified according to age and gender. Hooded vultures and pied crows were more common in urban than rural areas, and their presence was positively correlated with human numbers. Birds were most common in meat and waste production areas, but also foraged for street discards in non-food production and residential areas, and were most rare in rural areas. Bird consumption of waste was viewed positively, while eating of other foods, close proximity and unusual behaviours were viewed negatively. Both species, especially the larger vultures, were feared as spiritual agents, this measured by odd behaviours. Women and older people had stronger beliefs, due to cultural conditioning. These human perspectives and reactions influenced avian presence. This study contributes to urban avian ecology, socio-cultural studies and urban planning.

Keywords: Accra; Ghana; Kumasi; ecology; hooded vulture; pied crow; urban

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, Thompson Rivers University, Kamploops, British Columbia, Canada V2C 5N3, Email:

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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