No more hedgehogs hunting in North
Growing up in rural communities in Northern Ghana is a life full of fun with nostalgic feeling.
From hunting birds, rats, fishing, herding cattle to swimming.
These are some of the experiences everybody born and bred in a rural setting would always have fond memories of.
In fact, children in the north, particularly herders, cannot share their experiences without mentioning the hunting of hedgehogs.
The Sisaala enclave of the northern part of Ghana is noted to be a hub of hedgehogs, especially at the beginning of the rainy season, which is the peak, and the end of the rainy season.
It is believed to be a nutritious meat and is often consumed by children, hunters and livestock herders.
However, these mammals are gradually going extinct due to environmental degradation and bush fires.
There has been a sharp decline in their population in recent times, which has become source of worry to environmentalists.
An Environmentalist and Tour Guide, Ayamga Bawa Fatawu, in an interview with the Daily Graphic said the mammals were fast going extinct due to environmental degradation.
He said, hitherto, those mammals dominated the vegetation cover of Northern Ghana, but they are currently very rare, adding that apart from the environmental significance they also hold tourism potential.
Hedgehogs are small mammals with short limbs and a body that is low to the ground.
Their most distinctive characteristic is thousands of stiff, sharp spines harder and sharper than those of a porcupine that cover the animal’s back and sides, like a pincushion filled with needles.
Hedgehogs have a coat of stiff, sharp spines and would, by the least contact, curl into a soccer ball-like form and this enables them to protect themselves from predators.
They have a key role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, as they work to control insect populations including keeping gardens healthy.
They are also used for medicinal purposes such as the boosting of libido and treating certain illnesses.
According to research, hedgehogs can live up to five or eight years.
They are about 7 to 9 inches in length and 600 grammes in weight. Its gestation period spans between 35 and 58 days.
Hedgehogs navigate with the aid of an extraordinary sense of hearing and smell.
They are usually spotted during the night since they are solitary animals and thus shy to mingle with other creatures especially humans, and even with the same species except during mating.
On rare occasions, children herders in rural settings do spot them under shrubs or wet grasses.
The sharp quills on the hedgehogs' body make it uncomfortable for one to handle.
Interestingly, children born outside rural areas find it difficult to decipher between a hedgehog and a porcupine since to them, hedgehogs grow to become grown porcupines.
Sharing fond memories of his encounter with hedgehogs with the Daily Graphic, a resident of Tumu, Adam Salifu, narrated, "In fact growing up in the village the hedgehog was our life saviour because whenever we wer herding livestock in the bush and we were hungry, we kill them to eat.
"During those days, the animals always moved round in the night in search of feed, so we used to light up lanterns and go round to hunt them.”
Another resident, Fuseini Mumuni, expressed worry about the gradual extinction of the mammals and stressed the need to conserve the environment to protect them.