Review of the Distribution of Waterbirds in Two Tropical coastal Ramsar Lagoons in Ghana, West Africa
A review of waterbirds was undertaken in two coastal Ramsar lagoons, namely the Keta and Muni Ramsar sites in Ghana, West Africa, from August 2010 to March 2012 to determine the status of diversity and abundance of key waterbird species that utilize the lagoons. A total of 20,217 of waterbirds belonging to 25 different species, 19 genera and 10 families were counted in the two lagoons. Maximum count of 19,757 contributing to 97.7% of the total counts was recorded in Keta Lagoon area while 460 contributing to 2.3% of the total count was recorded in the Muni Lagoon area. By comparison with the Save the Seashore Birds Project-Ghana (SSBP-G), which started in 1983 and ended in 1985, a total of 53,500 of waterbirds were counted in the Keta Lagoon, an indication of a 63.1% decline in waterbirds abundance. Atotal of 24 species was recorded in the Keta Lagoon and its surrounding floodplains (H‟= 0.94, J‟= 0.68 and d‟= 2.32), whilst the Muni Lagoon recorded a lower number of species of 12 (H‟ = 0.82, J‟ = 0.76 and d‟ = 1.79). The Keta Lagoon recorded higher numbers of waterbirds because the Keta Lagoon is less turbid and shallow, and, therefore, waterbirds were able to stalk and easily locate their prey as compared to the Muni Lagoon, which recorded the lowest numbers possibly due to siltation and, hence, waterbirds could not locate fish fingerlings. Generally, the diversity of waterbirds utilizing both lagoons has declined over the past 27 years as compared to the results from the SSBP-G. Public awareness programmes to highlight the importance of lagoons and waterbirds as environmental indicators is recommended. This could be achieved through education and enforcement of existing wildlife laws and international conventions. In addition, conservation initiatives governing the conservation of waterbirds by the Ghana Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission is urgently recommended.