August 22, 2016
In Ghana, over half of all forest understory birds have vanished in just 15 years as unchecked illegal logging, economic stress and demand for African timber take their toll on the nation’s rainforests. by Mike Unger
One calm, moonless night in the Ghanaian rainforest, Nicole Arcilla heard the rumble of an approaching truck.
Arcilla was camping in the forest with special permission from the Ghana government to conduct research on the impact of logging on local wildlife populations. During the two-year project, she often slept outdoors so that she could start work before dawn, when the forest’s array of beautiful birds chirp to life, greeting the sun.
No one else was supposed to be there at night.
“Our truck was parked in the middle of the road, and we had to move it so they could pass,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘Wait a second. The only reason they’re here is to do something illegal.’”
Arcilla, a postdoctoral research associate in the Biodiversity, Earth & Environmental Sciences Department in Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences, reported the illegal loggers to the authorities, but she had little hope that anything would come of it. Hardly a day passed in the forest without her or someone on her team seeing evidence of illegal activities.
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