Indigenous wildlife management knowledge systems and their role in facilitating community-based wildlife management projects in Botswana.
The current plight of biodiversity decline has led ecologists, resource managers and policy makers to search for new approaches to reverse the gloomy trend. The aims of the present study were to investigate the potential contribution of indigenous knowledge systems in wildlife management/conservation as a basis in improving community based natural resources management projects in Botswana and to asses the link between indigenous ecological principles and conventional ecological approaches in wildlife conservation. For the purpose of this research, hunting was chosen as a parameter for assessment of the indigenous conservation/management strategies. The choice was based on the knowledge that hunting, as a consumptive form of wildlife utilisation, plays a pivotal role in the long-term viability and sustainability of wildlife populations. The research approach made use of documentary data, traditional gathering, interviews involving key informants and focus groups and participant observation. The nature and purpose of the research called for snowball sampling technique which ensured purposive sampling. The greatest challenge that face indigenous knowledge systems is that they lack systematic documentation as they are only in the minds of local people and they are orally transmitted between generations. The threat towards this knowledge base is that it is often marginalised and lost in the modern times due to fragmentation and homogenisation of cultures and traditional institutions that supported it. It was through the urgent need dictated by this status quo that this research project was conceived in an attempt to document, understand and cautiously interpret the systems and practices for potential contribution to conventional natural resources management strategies. Research findings showed that communities had resource management and conservation strategies based on sound ecological principles though these were marginalised in favour of conventional inadequate conservation attempts that had no relevance to the cultures resident within the ecosystems. It is these resource use strategies together with the traditional institutions and structures which regulated them, that suggestions and recommendations made by this research calls for their revitalisation and policy, legal and institutional reforms and harmonisation to accommodate and give way to the adoption process in conventional conservation endeavours.
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