Slideshow | Workshop on biodiversity and ecosystem services in the Western Ghats: A rich repository of traditional indigenous culture worth documenting – Tamil Nadu

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Vital need to document the culture of indigenous people


The tangible and intangible culture of the indigenous people should be documented in print and visuals as they are gradually disappearing due to various factors said R Mathew, a noted ethno-musicologist while delivering the keynote address at a Discussion Workshop hosted by the UNESCO held here, and attended by more than 60 members from different Kaani communities of the Western Ghats. 
The keynote speaker revealed that the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform of Biodiversity Eco-system Services (IPBES) in association with the UNESCO is taking strenuous efforts to document the culture of the indigenous people throughout the globe.
He said that the Kaani indigenous community residing in the dense jungles of Kanyakumari at the tail-end of the Western Ghats had a rich repository of traditional indigenous culture. But owing to the present modernization, Westernization and communication revolution which had swept the traditional culture of the indigenous community, there was imminent possibility of the culture relegated to the background and become extinct in due course.
S S Davidson, Managing Trustee of Tribal Foundation, who organized the workshop said that the Kaani indigenous people had a host of traditional Indigenous Local Knowledge ( ILK ) to counter the present animal conflict using bamboo tools to chase out the animals that raid the agricultural crops. Apart from the tools, they had many other aspects of ILK in their life, which aim at sustainable forest conservation.
The Kaani tribal community
He pointed out that the indigenous Kaani people had a strong respect and affinity with the wild animals that they conserve them, though the animals raid their crops. As fervent Animists, who are Nature worshippers, they never harm the animals, which is a positive driver in conservation ethics.
The existing status of the relevance of animal raids like elephants, sloth bear, sambar, mountain goat, deer, monkey and wild boar and the traditional ways to counter them were highlighted by power point presentation.
Participating in the Group Discussion, R Madhavan Kaani a senior clan leader said that, ‘owing to ecological imbalance, population of specific species as monkey, wild boar and sambar have proliferated in population, which destroy all the agricultural crops’.
C Appu Kaani another senior person of Cherukadathu-Kaani said that, ‘the dwindling population of the predator species as tiger, leopard, hyena and wild dogs have made a negative impact on forest ecology in increase of prey population and these need proper conservation’.
A PPt was presented by S S Davidson, on the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) which is the intergovernmental body which assesses the state of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services it provides to society from IPBES is placed under the auspices of four United Nations entities: UNEP, UNESCO, FAO and UNDP and administered by UNEP.
International collaboration
One thousand scientists from all over the world currently contribute to the work of IPBES on a voluntary basis. Peer review forms a key component of the work of IPBES to ensure that a range of views is reflected in its work, and that the work is complete to the highest scientific standards.
He said that the IPBES recognizes and respects the contribution of indigenous and local knowledge to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems.
It provide policy relevant information, but not policy-prescriptive advice, mindful of the respective mandates of the multilateral environmental agreements, and integrate capacity-building into all relevant aspects of its work according to priorities decided by the Plenary. The organization addresses terrestrial, marine and inland water biodiversity and ecosystem services and their interactions. It also recognizes the unique biodiversity and scientific knowledge thereof within and among regions and the need for the full and effective participation of developing countries.
Representatives of the Save the Western Ghats Movement and environmentalists participated in the workshop.

Source: photos and report courtesy S. Davidson © 1 September 2016

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