Bridging ecological anthropology and primatology for biodiversity conservation of African rainforests
Naoki Matsuura (University of Shizuoka)
Paper short abstract:
Conservation of biodiversity in African rainforests is an important global concern but few effective projects exist. This paper presents the interdisciplinary practices of Japanese ecological anthropology and primatology for an effective system for conservation and local development.
Paper long abstract:
Conservation of biodiversity in African rainforests is an important global concern. Deforestation is rapidly progressing in the Congo Basin due to the expansion of agricultural lands and development of commercial logging. In addition to habitat loss from deforestation, the increase in bushmeat trade threatens some wildlife species with extinction. Great apes are particularly vulnerable because of their long lifecycle, low reproduction rate, large range size, and high risk to infectious diseases of human origin. However, few conservation projects with effective sustainable management systems exist, which is largely because of the conflict between local people's lives and conservation practices. It is therefore necessary to establish collaborative relationships with local populations, which requires detailed knowledge about local culture. In particular, understanding the diverse forms of relationships between humans and wildlife is important. Japanese ecological anthropology and primatology, which have developed simultaneously based on long-term field research in various regions of Africa, provide clues to solve the issue. This paper presents the interdisciplinary practices of Japanese ecological anthropology and primatology that aim to develop close relationships with the local population and understand both people and wildlife. The author presents a collaborative research and conservation project in a national park in Gabon and then discusses the possibility of establishing an effective and sustainable system for biodiversity conservation along with local development. Integrating scientific knowledge of primatologists with a deep understanding of local culture of ecological anthropologists, the author suggests the implementation of participative ecotourism.
Anthropological perspectives on environmental change and sustainable futures (Commission on Anthropology and the Environment)