The Director, Forestry Policy and Resources Division at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Eva Muller, has said that indigenous people as key to wildlife protection and rural livelihoods, reports NaijaAgroNet.
Muller was quoted in FAO's quarterly forestry publication Unasylva, made available to NaijaAgroNet in commemoration of World Wildlife Day, as saying that actively involving indigenous peoples and local communities in wildlife conservation is key to maintaining biodiversity and ensuring sustainable rural livelihoods.
The director also said that the urgent challenges that the world faces in maintaining biodiversity worldwide requires that indigenous peoples are empowered to act at the national level with assistance from the international community.
Stressing that the cultures of indigenous peoples and local communities involve the stewardship of wildlife, just as they simply cannot imagine their life divorced from nature and their interest in the sustainable use of resources is strong.
"Empowerment of these groups combined with their knowledge and long-term planning skills is essential to ensure the survival of future generations - of both humans and wildlife" Muller said.
The relationship between humans and wildlife, Muller highlighted in the publication, citing several case studies from various countries to illustrate how indigenous peoples can optimize the benefits for their livelihoods while also safeguarding wildlife, provided they are given the rights to make their own decisions in the territories they inhabit.
In the northern part of Mount Kenya, for instance, the Il Lakipiak Maasai ("People of Wildlife") own and operate the only community-owned rhino sanctuary in the country. These indigenous peoples have managed to alleviate the human - wildlife conflicts that arise in the area due to the intrusion of wild animals searching for water, prey and pasture during drought. They achieved this by reducing bush-cutting to ensure more fodder for wildlife on their lands. Through this conservation strategy, indigenous peoples have demonstrated that they can coexist harmoniously with wildlife while supporting their own pastoral lives and cultures.
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