Aberdeen, 8 November 1999.
A recent article about the Bui Dam Project has been brought to my attention ("Courting megadisaster: Bui Dam to cause havoc" 27 April 1999 by Mike Anane) which I would like to respond to, because I was the leader of a team of students who carried out what are probably the only ecological investigations ever to be conducted at Bui National Park in 1997. Mr Anane did not contact our team prior to publishing the article, and the opinions he attributes to our team are unfair and misleading. Our aim was to survey animals in the park and report on their present status to Ghana Wildlife Department, not to form opinions on whether a dam should be built or not. The main conclusion generated was that if the dam project went ahead, a great deal of independent research needed to be carried out in the area prior to any construction, so that steps could be taken to minimise the damage done and ensure the continued survival of threatened animals, such as the hippopotamus. Contrary to Mr Anane's claims, we are unaware of any globally endangered species in Bui National Park, nor did we claim that the dam would destroy the spawning runs of fish. We did state that all the fish present are economically important, but Mr Anane took this out of context because the point was that all fish are economically important in a deprived area like Bui, and the average size of the fish we found there was less than 80g. Quite simply, we do not know enough about the ecology of Bui National Park to determine what would be lost by flooding it, and how much could be saved by forward planning.
In my opinion we should always save the animals. But most of people who live in the Bui area would welcome the economic opportunities the dam might bring. It would be an injustice to them, and to the country as a whole, to dismiss the project on so little evidence as ours.
Black Volta Project
Scotland Great Britain
Fax: +44 1224 272396
Details of our work at Bui National Park is available online at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/~nhi770/volta.html