Urashi Waterfall Ecotourism Development and Cultural Challenges in Dikenafai, Ideato South Local Government Area, Nigeria
The study examined the cultural challenges posed by the Urashi Waterfall ecotourism development in Dikenafai, Ideato Local Government Area, Nigeria. Data for this study were collected through questionnaires using non structured method, and complemented with observations, focus group discussions and in- depth interviews. A total of 100 respondents separated by gender, village settlement, location of residence and generation were sampled. One focus group discussion separated by age and gender was conducted in each village. In all, four focus group discussions were conducted. Destruction of the Urashi shrine, felling of all merchantable trees in Urashi enclave, felling of ‘ evil trees’ in Dikenafai community, and division of the community members based on religious interests wereindicated by all respondents (100.0%) as cultural challenges (100.0%) posed by ecotourism development in Dikenafai. Consequently, Dikenafai community is vulnerable to erosion menace (100.0%) and exposed to scorching sun rays (100.0%) as many economic and shade trees (100.0%) were destroyed. All respondents (100.0%) are afraid of landslide in the Urashi enclave due to erosion, hence accepted that erosion control measures should be embarked upon to safe the situation. However, majority of the
respondents (66.0%) are not willing to embark on afforestation project as it is not part of their culture coupled with land scarcity. All female discussants (50.0%) and majority of the male discussants below 40 years (21.88%) supported the religious exercise. About 68.76% including all female discussants indicated that the cultural conflict would have no effect on tourist visitation. However, some (40.0%) respondents are afraid that the Urashi deity may seize the flow of the Urashi water, while others (60.0%) perceived that the religious exercise would rather fasten the rate of flow of the Urashi water while maintaining its attendant purity.
Keywords: Cultural challenges, Urashi waterfall, Sacred forest, Forest
resources, Community participation, Conservation, Empowerment,
Dikenafai, Community, Ecotourism.
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