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Mole National Park

Coordinates: 9°42′N 1°50′W / 9.700°N 1.833°W / 9.700; -1.833
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Mole National Park
An African bush elephant at the park
Map showing the location of Mole National Park
Map showing the location of Mole National Park
Location Ghana
Nearest cityLarabanga
Coordinates9°42′N 1°50′W / 9.700°N 1.833°W / 9.700; -1.833
Area4840 km2

Mole National Park, one of Ghana's seven national parks, is the country's largest wildlife refuge.[1][2] The park is located in the Savannah region of Ghana on savanna and riparian ecosystems at an elevation of 50 m, with a sharp escarpment forming the southern boundary of the park. The Park is 24 km from Damongo, the district capital, 146 km south east of Tamale, the Regional capital. The park is 700 km from Accra and 430 km from Kumasi.[3] The park's entrance is reached through the nearby town of Larabanga.[1][4] It covers an area of about 4,577 square kilometers of fairly undisturbed Guinea savannah in the northern part of Ghana.[2] The Levi and Mole Rivers are ephemeral rivers flowing through the park, leaving behind only drinking holes during the long dry season.[5] This area of Ghana receives over 10 mm per year of rainfall. A long-term study has been done on Mole National Park to understand the impact of human hunters on the animals in the preserve.[6]

The park is also Ghana’s most developed tourism site in terms of tourist amenities. The reserve has West Africa’s first luxury safari lodge nestled in the heart of the Mole forest. Zaina the country’s premier ecolodge provides world class hospitality service with a unique touch.[3]


The park's lands were set aside as a wildlife refuge in 1958. In 1971, the small human population of the area was relocated and the lands were designated to a national park. The park has not seen major development as a tourist location since its original designation. The Mole National park as a protective area is underfunded and national and international concerns exist about poaching and sustainability in the park, but its protection of important resident antelope species has improved since its initial founding as a preserve.[7][8]

Since the resettlement of humans from the area, the park has become an important study area for scientists. This has allowed for some long-term studies, in particular, of relatively undisturbed sites compared to similar areas of densely populated equatorial West Africa. One study on the resident population of 800 elephants, for example, indicates that elephant damage to large trees varies with species. In Mole, elephants have a greater tendency to seriously injure economically important species such as Burkea africana, an important tropical hardwood, and Butyrospermum paradoxum, the source of shea butter, over the less important Terminalia spp.[6][9]

Recently, honey made from flowers in the Molé National Forest has become the region's first fair-trade commodity.[10] Nearby, villagers harvest the honey using traditional, non-invasive methods, and have partnered with a Utah-based company to sell the honey as a health and wellness supplement in the US.[11] The program was co-founded by Ashanti Chief Nana Kwasi Agyemang, who hopes to re-ignite local interest in the honey and eventually export it to other countries in Africa.[12]


Burkea africana is a member of the Legume Family that is common throughout Tropical Africa including Ghana's Mole National Park

Tree species of the park include Burkea africana, Isoberlinia doka, and Terminalia macroptera. The savanna grasses are somewhat low in diversity but known species include a spikesedge, Kyllinga echinata, an Aneilema, Aneilema setiferum var. pallidiciliatum, and two endemic members of the Asclepiadaceae subfamily, the vine Gongronema obscurum, and the edible geophyte, Raphionacme vignei.[9][13][14][15]



Herbaceous plants:



Old World monkeys are common in the park

The park is home to over 93 mammal species, and the large mammals including an elephant population, hippos, buffalo, and warthogs.[16][17] The park is considered a primary African preserve for antelope species including kob, defassa waterbuck, roan, hartebeest, oribi, the bushbuck, and two duikers, the red duiker and yellow-backed duiker.[7][16][17][18][19] Olive baboons, black-and-white colobus monkeys, the green vervet, and patas monkeys are the known species of monkeys resident in the park.[16] Of the 33 known species of reptiles slender-snouted and dwarf crocodile are found in the park.[1][16][17] Sightings of hyenas, lions and leopards are unusual, but these carnivores were once more common in the park.[6][17] Among the 344 listed bird species are the martial eagle, the white-headed and palm-nut vultures, saddle-billed storks, herons, egrets, the Abyssinian roller, the violet turaco, various shrikes and the red-throated bee-eater.[1]

Mole National Park, like other Ghanaian game preserves, is poorly funded for prevention of poaching. Nevertheless, the fauna of the park is guarded by professional rangers,[20] and the poachers are at real risk to be put under arrest. Poachers tend to live within 50 km of the boundaries of the park.[6] This distance of 50 km is the reported greatest distance hunters were willing to travel with poached game.[6] The remnant human population of the park was removed in 1961, leaving all game hunters outside the reserve, meaning that mammal populations on the edges of the park are impacted more by hunting than interior populations.


After improvements to the roads leading to the park, the number of visitors to the park increased from 14,600 in 2014 to 17,800 in 2015. Depending on the year, about 20-40% of visitors are foreigners. Farouk Umaru Dubiure, the Park Manager, says, “though we received many visitors, the funds generated were very low because 70 percent of the visitors were Ghanaian students who pay little to visit the park. These students also visit the Park on the same day and return, compared to the foreigners who spend more days to view the Park well.” [21]

The new road was also blamed for facilitating illegal rosewood logging bound for China.[22]

Other tourist attractions around the Mole area include Bui National Park, Paga Crocodile Pond, Larabanga Mosque, Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows among others.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Briggs, Philip J. (2007). Ghana, 4th (Bradt Travel Guide). Bradt Travel Guides. ISBN 978-1-84162-205-7.
  2. ^ a b c "Mole National Park, Northen Ghana". Mole National Park. Retrieved 2023-08-02.
  3. ^ a b "Visit Ghana - Mole National Park". Visit Ghana. Retrieved 2024-06-27.
  4. ^ "Visit Ghana - Savanna Region". Visit Ghana. Retrieved 2023-03-11.
  5. ^ Bowell, R. T.; R. K. Ansah (1993). "Trace Element Budget in an African Savannah Ecosystem". Biogeochemistry. 20 (2): 103–126. doi:10.1007/BF00004137. S2CID 97181325.
  6. ^ a b c d e Brashares, Justin S.; Peter Arcese, Moses K. Sam (2001). "Human demography and reserve size predict wildlife extinction in West Africa". Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 268 (1484): 2473–2478. doi:10.1098/rspb.2001.1815. PMC 1088902. PMID 11747566.
  7. ^ a b East, R. (Rod); IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group. (1999). African Antelope Database 1999. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN Species Survival Commission. ISBN 2-8317-0477-4.
  8. ^ Stuart, S. N.; Adams, Richard J.; Jenkins, Martin (1990). Biodiversity in Sub-Saharan Africa and its Islands : Conservation, Management, and Sustainable Use (Occasional Papers of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. ISBN 2-8317-0021-3.
  9. ^ a b Sackey, I; WHG Hale (2008). "The Impact of Elephants on the Woody Vegetation of Mole National Park, Ghana". Journal of the Ghana Science Association. 10 (2): 28–38. doi:10.4314/jgsa.v10i2.18038.
  10. ^ "Who We Are - Aseda Raw Honey". Aseda Raw Honey. Retrieved 2016-02-29.
  11. ^ McCord, Keith (7 October 2012). "Utah company's honey business changes lives in Africa". DeseretNews.com. Retrieved 2016-02-29.
  12. ^ "Made In Ghana, Sold In U.S.A: Honey Co-Op Provides Jobs In Africa". AFKInsider. 18 October 2013. Retrieved 2016-02-29.
  13. ^ "Mole National Park - UNESCO World Heritage Centre".
  14. ^ Sobey, Douglas G. (1978). "Anogeissus Groves on Abandoned Village Sites in the Mole National Park, Ghana". Biotropica. 10 (2): 87–99. doi:10.2307/2388011. JSTOR 2388011.
  15. ^ Benzie, John A. H. (1986). "The Distribution, Abundance, and the Effects of Fire on Mound Building Termites (Trinervitermes and Cubitermes spp., Isoptera: Termitidae) in Northern Guinea Savanna West Africa". Oecologia. 70 (4): 559–567. doi:10.1007/BF00379904. PMID 28311499. S2CID 2597491.
  16. ^ a b c d Riley, William; Riley, Laura (2005). Nature's strongholds: the world's great wildlife reserves. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-12219-9.
  17. ^ a b c d Pamela K. Brodowsky and the National Wildlife Federation (2009). Destination Wildlife : An International Site-By-Site Guide to the Best Places to Experience Endangered, Rare, and Fascinating Animals and Their Habitat. New York: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-399-53486-7.
  18. ^ East, R. (Rod); Mallon, D. P. (David P.); Kingswood, Steven Charles (1989). Antelopes : global survey and regional action plan. Gland, Switzerland: International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. ISBN 2-8317-0016-7. compiled by R. East.
  19. ^ Brashares, Justin S.; Moses K. Sam (2005). "How much is enough? Estimating the minimum sampling required for effective monitoring of African reserves". Biodiversity and Conservation. 14 (11): 2709–2722. doi:10.1007/s10531-005-8404-z. S2CID 8392674.
  20. ^ "Photographs of Mole National Park, April 2016". Independent Travellers. independent-travellers.com. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  21. ^ "Mole Park attracts more tourists". 20 January 2016.
  22. ^ "How China's Appetite for Rosewood Fuels Illegal Logging in Ghana". 17 December 2022.

External links[edit]