Threats To Ronga Custodianship Of A Sacred Grove In Southern Mozambique
Licuáti Forest Reserve in southern Mozambique safeguards a dry, tropical forest with many rare and endemic plant species, but it is also a sacred grove that holds the graves of the Santaca family who long served as the local traditional authority. Interviews with male elders of the tribe serve as the main source of information regarding local cultural beliefs and practices concerning the forest. Feedback contends that taboos and other local practices have been more important than state-based regulations in protecting the forest, particularly from charcoal production. The capacity of local measures to protect the sacred grove is limited, given the socio-economic and political status in the country. This has led to the involvement of government through conservation policy and law enforcement. However, such formal conservation measures are not sufficient, nor effective and a workable scheme based on the local indigenous knowledge system is proposed as a means to ensure the sustainable use of the forest in collaboration with governmental institutions.
Keywords: Biodiversity, conservation, ethnobotany, indigenous knowledge, Licuáti, Sand Forest, taboo, tribal authority.
Indilinga Vol. 7 (2) 2008: pp. 182-197