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Integrating hunter knowledge with community-based conservation in the Pamir Region of Tajikistan

Qobiljon Shokirov, Department of Geography, University of Zurich
Norman Backhaus, Department of Geography, University of Zurich; University Priority Programme Global Change and Biodiversity, University of Zurich


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Indigenous hunting communities around the world possess capabilities to accumulate and maintain knowledge based on their traditional practices, cultural norms, and belief systems. Case studies around the world have demonstrated that merging indigenous hunting knowledge with community-based conservation approaches is often complementary to biodiversity conservation. A combination of such approaches improves wildlife conservation practices and livelihood strategies while enhancing communities’ social-ecological resilience. However, if mismanaged, such approaches lead to negative results in the community, such as an increased exposure/vulnerability to corruption, power inequality among interest groups, as well as mismanagement of wildlife species. We explore the existence of hunting-specific traditional ecological knowledge and the contribution of such knowledge to wildlife management in the case of community-based conservation in Tajikistan. We reviewed hunting-related literature from 1850 to 1950, conducted interviews, and accompanied hunters in the field to document their ecological knowledge of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), also known as the Pamir region of Tajikistan. Throughout our research, we found that there exists a rich body of hunter-specific ecological knowledge of hunting norms, ethics, taboos, and belief systems in the Pamir region of Tajikistan. Traditional hunters largely accepted a community-based conservation approach because it resonates with their subsistence hunting practices. Also, combining traditional hunter knowledge with a community-based conservation approach created an opportunity for knowledge sharing, improved the quality of scientific wildlife surveys, and led to better collaboration among conservancies and other conservation NGOs. More importantly, such approaches empowered and incentivized local traditional hunters to take responsibility for wildlife management.

Key words

community-based conservation; hunting; natural resource management; Pamir Mountains; resilience; social-ecological change; Tajikistan; traditional ecological knowledge

Copyright © 2020 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087