• Ghana Wildlife Society, P. O. Box 13252, Accra.
  • Contact Us: (+233) 0302 665197
                         (+233) 0508 250500
  • Mon-Fri: 8.00 - 17.00 GMT
Birds, Bees and Butter project
Learning about the birds and bees of West Africa.

Shea flower

The Shea tree in addition to its famous moisturising butter, shea provides vital food and income for about 80 million people in the sub-Saharan Africa. Shea is one of the few species of trees retained in parklands of the agricultural landscapes as other trees have been removed for fuelwood and charcoal production and also to make way for crops and livestock.

A research by Birdlife International, VBN (Birdlife in the Netherlands) and RSPB (Birdlife in the UK) established a potential link between the dramatic decline of the many species of birds that migrate through the Shea zone of Africa and the lack of suitable habitat in Shea growing regions. The worldwide loss of habitat diversity has also been linked to the declines in insect pollinators. However, very little is known about Shea pollination, but experts believe that the parkland monocultures may not be ‘bee-friendly’, hence contributing to the lower yields.

The project which started in May 2015 and ended in July 2016 was sponsored by the Birdlife International and sought to;

  • Conduct a study that assesses the drivers of tree retention/removal on Shea Parklands and how these have changed in the past and might change in the future.
  • Gather socio-economic data land use change among communities living inthe Shea parklands in Damongo and Tamale in Ghana.
  • To study the pollinators of Shea within the parklands in order to identify the role insects play in increasing Shea fruit production.


The project enlightened farmers and chiefs about the role insects play in boosting Shea yields and how they can help manage their farmland to benefit nature and people’s livelihood. It was established that bees are the most important pollinators of Shea and that increasing their population will boost livelihoods by increasing Shea yields.

Going forward it is key to demonstrating the livelihood benefits of insect pollinators to the communities for a more diverse bird friendly parkland in Ghana.


The research team

Shea Parkland

Shea fruits

Shea fruit with nuts

Setting up a pollination experiment

Insects trapped on a yellow trap

Insects trapped in a pan trap

Yellow trap on a shea tree

Ghana WildLIfe Society

Our work is firmly rooted in partnerships, and relies on science that inspires positive conservation actions in collaboration with communities, civil society groups, businesses, universities and the government.


Ghana Wildlife Society.
P.O. Box 13252,

(+233) 0302 665197

(+233) 0508 250500


08:00-17:00 GMT, excludes
weekends and public holidays