Bridging conservation science and traditional knowledge of wild animals: The need for expert guidance and inclusion of local knowledge holders

Abstract

Many people call for strengthening knowledge co-production between academic science and indigenous and local knowledge systems. A major barrier to cooperation seems to be a lack of experience regarding where and how traditional knowledge can be found and obtained. Our key question was whether the expert judgment of academic zoologists or a feature-based linear model is better at predicting the observed level of local familiarity with wild animal species. Neither the zoologists nor the model proved sufficiently accurate (70 and 60%, respectively), with the inaccuracy probably resulting from inadequate knowledge of the local ecological and cultural specificities of the species. This indicates that more knowledge is likely to come from local knowledge than zoologists would expect. Accuracy of targeting the relevant species for knowledge co-production could be improved through specific understanding of the local culture, provided by experts who study traditional zoological knowledge and by local knowledge holders themselves.

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Acknowledgements

Thanks for all the local informants from Szilágyság, Gömör and Drávaszög regions, especially István Tórizs and his family, László Borbély, Eszter Bordás, Mária Dobszai†, Zoltán Fábry, Andor Forgon, János Kandert, Gyula Kovács, Sándor Kovács, János Laczkó, Lajos Lubascsik†, Karolina Nemes, András Pataky†, Lídia Somogyi, Pál Szabó† and Pál Őz for sharing their knowledge with us and for all zoologists who filled in the questionnaire (András Ambrus, Bálint Bajomi, Sándor Boldogh, Tibor Danyik, Róbert Gallé, László Haraszthy, Katalin Kelemen, Zoltán Kenyeres, András Máté, Attila Molnár, Miklós Sárospataki, András Schmidt, László Somay, Tamás Szitta, Gergely Szövényi, Attila Torma, Zoltán Vajda, Zoltán Varga and Zsolt Végvári). Thanks to Tiborné Ulicsni for transcribing our recordings and to György Szollát for contacting some of the informants. Thanks to Brigitta Palotás and Steve Kane for English editing. This research was supported by project GINOP-2.3.2-15-2016-00019.

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Correspondence to Viktor Ulicsni.

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Ulicsni, V., Babai, D., Vadász, C. et al. Bridging conservation science and traditional knowledge of wild animals: The need for expert guidance and inclusion of local knowledge holders. Ambio 48, 769–778 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1106-z

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Keywords

  • Biodiversity assessments
  • Conservation policy
  • Indigenous and local knowledge (ILK)
  • Knowledge co-production
  • Knowledge systems
  • Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK)