Cape Town – Jungle Gold, a reality production from Discovery Networks aired in South Africa on the Discovery Channel (DStv 121) and filmed in Ghana, has decided to immediately pack up and leave the area.
This development follows controversy which erupted after the Ghanaian government said it is on a manhunt for the show's two stars, Scott Lomu and George Wright, because of alleged "severe brutalities" that is seen in Jungle Gold, because small scale mining by "non-Ghanaians are illegal".
The Ghana government also feels Jungle Gold "portrays Ghana in a negative light".
Rookie US gold miners
Jungle Gold started broadcasting across Africa on MultiChoice's DStv from April after the first season was also shown in the United States. The reality show was recently renewed for a second season.
The series follows Lomu and Wright, two "rookie" American gold miners looking to strike it rich in Africa's second largest gold-producing country as they search for gold close to the Mirim River on an 80 acre claim.
Ghana's minister for lands and natural resources, Inusah Fuseini, spoke on a Ghana radio programme saying that Jungle Gold "portrays Ghana as a jungle, where no laws exists and where people can come and act with impunity, and that we don't regulate mining in the country."
Fuseini said that regarding small scale mining "no foreign national is allowed by the minerals and mining law to engage in this" and that "people who are non-Ghanaian have no business in engaging in small scale mining and to take the opportunity to film this in activities which shows Ghana in a negative light."
He said that the government is looking for the men in Romaso in the Ashanti region of the West African country "hoping they are still there".
The comments from the Ghanaian government has instantly placed Discovery and the Jungle Gold production under immense pressure as they fear for the safety of Lomu, Wright and the production crew.
A Discovery spokesperson told Channel24: "Discovery was completing its second season of shooting at an unrelated mine when our cast and crew were made aware of some events and media attention which we felt put them at risk."
Discovery says "all cast and crew members have left the area".
It's not clear at this stage whether Discovery and the production team secured the necessary permits, documents and permission for the reality stars to commence what Ghana considers "small scale mining", and whether all the relevant Ghanaian governmental departments gave permission for it to be filmed.
The scandal which has now erupted places a question mark over the future of the show.