The Role of Indigenous Knowledge in Biodiversity Conservation in the Lesotho Highlands: Exploring Indigenous Epistemology
AbstractThis paper is based on part of a broad study to investigate indigenous knowledge applied by the Lesotho Highlands communities to conserve biodiversity. A questionnaire was administered in 12 villages, to a population of 139 interviewees. It guided interviews on conservation of selected faunal and floral species with various community groups in the highlands: men, women, herd-boys and school pupils. It is illustrated that there are practices and beliefs about certain species that contribute towards their conservation. Through these beliefs species are perceived to have powers to cause certain awesome consequences for humans if destroyed, seen or encountered, and some species are believed to have abilities to communicate some messages to humans. It is argued that these beliefs and practices reflect evidence of the existence of a complex epistemological framework characterised by physical and spiritual interconnections of humans with other species. Some implications of the emergent epistemology for educational and conservation approaches are discussed.
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