Mphemelang Joseph Ketlhoilwe, Koketso Jeremiah


Traditional knowledge on local biodiversity has sustained traditional economies for centuries across the world. While it is threatened by modern ecological knowledge, it remains very important in some regions, especially among poor communities in both less developed and industrialized nations. Among such communities, it is valued and treasured at varying extent throughout the year. In other communities, it is valued and utilized in seasonal livelihoods. It is therefore, treasured and passed from one generation to the next. In some cases, it almost competes with modern technological or scientific knowledge on the use and management of biodiversity. This case study is based on a research conducted in the Eastern part of Botswana among 14 villages where knowledge of species of edible and medicinal plants remains relevant. The researchers used observations, individual interviews and focus group discussions to generate data over a period of twenty months. It became apparent that local ecological knowledge is still valued, especially by poor people, who use it to enhance their wellbeing and to protect biodiversity. Some respondents said they value it since they are beneficiaries of those who possess it since they need and utilize the products sold by those who still have a wealth of knowledge of local biodiversity. Other respondents felt it (local knowledge) was as valuable as modern scientific knowledge and suggested that it should be legislated and taught in schools as it is slowly eroded or disappearing. This paper recommends the sustenance of the existing traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) while reconstructing it in preparation for curriculum development. The paper recommends that further research be carried out to document the type or nature of people who are TEK holders, the methods they use to manage and utilize local biodiversity products, the extent of success of their practices, up-to-date contacts of these people (communication channels) and suggest a policy to develop enabling social and economic conditions within which TEK practitioners work.


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traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), biodiversity, natural resources management, Botswana


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