Buabeng-Fiema monkey sanctuary is a popular tourist attraction in the Nkoranza North District, a district in the Brong-Ahafo Region of Ghana. It is a home for about 700 monkeys. The village is a community where monkeys and human beings live together. The inhabitants in the village always leave food outside their homes for the animals. The monkeys see human beings as their own. Buabeng- Fiema (Buabeng and Fiema, two different villages.) Monkey Sanctuary is located between Techiman and Kintampo around Nkoranza in the Brong-Ahafo Region of Ghana. People who do not believe in traditional African religion may see the conservation practices of the people as outmoded, but in Africa and elsewhere, where myths and taboos are common, the story of Buabeng-Fiema is very real. The dense tropical forest at the outskirts of the two towns is home to a host of playful and friendly monkeys of all kinds. The sanctuary is nestled in between the two villages of Buabeng and Fiema. In these two villages, monkeys and humans co-exist in the heart of a beautiful forest reserve. It is a widely held belief that anybody that intentionally kills a monkey suffers a calamity and there are countless stories of families that have been wiped away because one of them intentionally killed a monkey. To add to the taboo and myth, farming on Fridays have been barred in reverence to the monkeys.
History indicates it that a hunter came into contact with a spirit being called Daworo. A relationship developed between them and to cement this relationship, Daworo presented the hunter with a surprise. On one of his numerous visits to the forest in pursuant of his chosen profession, he found some monkeys who had gathered around a pot covered with a white cloth. The farmer did not know what to do with what he had seen and decided to consult the Daworo who told the farmer to take the white cloth with him back home. To his surprise, the monkeys followed him home. It is believed that Daworo told the farmer that he should not kill the monkeys but treat them as relations.
The sanctuary is home to over 200 black and white leaves, stems and mineralized earth eating Colobus and 500 brown color flowers, fruits, and insect-eating Campbell’s Mona Monkeys. As the names suggest, these monkeys are named after people who discovered them or have contributed to unearthing them.
The early hours and late evenings are the ideal periods in the day that these monkeys can be easily spotted. Visitors can hear the monkeys shout loudly in calling their troupe members. They come so close to human beings that it is not surprising to find monkeys trying to steal food from local kitchens. They are not harmed by the local because according to tradition anyone who harms them will suffer some form of calamity and more so they are considered their relatives if the story of the hunter and the spirit being is to be believed. This has given the monkeys some form of freedom that is not seen anywhere. This has made Buabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary of the few unique places to visit. A place where African mythology coupled with sound scientific management of wildlife has contributed to the conservation of these species of monkey.
At Buabeng-Fiema monkey sanctuary, one thing that grasps your attention is the cemetery where monkeys have been buried over the years. There are graves bearing inscriptions of the types of monkeys and the dates they died. The well-educated local tour guides are on hand to give a full account of how the burial is done. The narrative given includes what the monkeys are put in before burial (casket) and what they are wrapped in before burial- a white cloth (calico). The cemetery has quite a lot of graves at present. It is believed that monkeys from the two villages who are about to die will always make the journey back home to the sanctuary before dying.
The monkeys are easy to see if you walk in the forest or the village and the guides are very well-informed regarding the monkey clans and the areas they are likely to be seen. You can get access to souvenirs like carvings of ebony, cedar, and mahogany by local men along with some antique traditional beads and locally made jewelry. Crafts of the different types of monkeys mentioned can be purchased from these souvenir shops. One important thing worth mentioning is the hospitality of the indigenous people. The people are so welcoming that all visitors to the community are treated as brothers and sisters. Anyone you come into contact with will know whether you are a stranger and for that matter has come to them because of their “brothers” the monkeys and therefore all necessary courtesies are extended to you even if you are there not because of the monkeys. The welcoming attitude of the indigenes notwithstanding, visitor are advised not to feed the monkeys on anything. The reasons for such a prohibition are engraved in sound botany and wildlife practices across the world. If you are not sure, just ask any of the tour guides around.