Conservation experts over the weekend emphasized that science and technology should be linked with indigenous knowledge for effective biodiversity conservation in Africa.
This is among different recommendations made during the African Protected Areas Congress that convened more than 2000 delegates including government officials, conservation organizations, and interest groups from various countries.
A report on challenges, opportunities as well as recommendations were presented to delegates on July 22 to be assessed and include their inputs on the first-ever African congress of protected areas and chart ways forward.
While presenting the report, conservationists made case for African indigenous ways of conservation to be included along with the scientific approaches that are used.
Daniel Banuoku, Millar Open University, Ghana, said the issue is the framework that allows the interface between science, technology, and indigenous knowledge.
"Most of our conservation practices have, for a long time, been driven by external western scientific principles. We have been producing very malnourished outcomes of conservation even though the investments are increasing," he said.
According to him, it's because the current system does not integrate "the critical and core issues of indigenous knowledge, people's view, their cosmology, and beliefs."
Among other recommendations, Kasiki reiterated that sustainable finance for wildlife conservation needs an attitude shift from parties concerned, something that has been emphasized by different officials during the conference.
“African governments to fund conservation projects from their own budgets before seeking outside help.”
One of the lessons learnt that was highlighted was that Covid-19 pointed out that countries cannot rely on tourism sector only, but instead should have an emergence funding or mechanism.
With that, the congress highlighted that some challenges in conservation include; ensuring adoption of sustainable agricultural practices, cities and infrastructure development in Africa, and impacts of insecurity on protected and conserved areas.
There is also a need to build a diverse and professional ranger force that can be trusted by communities as they are expected to protect 30 percent of the earth by 2030 but their welfare is still lacking in many African countries.
In this case, women are more disadvantaged when it comes to recruitment of rangers, said Kasiki.
When it comes to opportunities identified within the ecosystem, conservationists find that the post-2020 global biodiversity framework is a big opportunity for all given that it acknowledges that conservation works best when equitable and it allows one to look beyond formally protected areas.
This, according to them, goes along with the role of the government in the inclusion of indigenous people in setting up protected areas.