Providing scientifically credible technical services in protected areas

Friedrich Alpers
Published: 15 November 2015
Last edited: 10 July 2019
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The role of traditional knowledge and application of diverse knowledge systems for wildlife management is demonstrated by Indigenous and local trackers and rangers e.g. in Bwabwata National Park in north east Namibia. The indigenous trackers and rangers are using a rigorous, culturally appropriate methodology for assessment and certification of tracking skills and competence. This knowledge is applied in wildlife monitoring and documenting scientific observations.


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Freshwater ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
River, stream
Temperate grassland, savanna, shrubland
Access and benefit sharing
Indigenous people
Species management
Other theme
Anti-poaching capacity and methods
Poor governance and participation
Unemployment / poverty


Bwabwata National Park, Namibia
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recognition of traditional knowledge and use of scientific services


Khwe communities in and around the national park

How do the building blocks interact?

P3DM builds trusting relationships between indigenous s peoples, local communities, and external actors including parks managers, NGOs, scientists and government. Issues of tensions related to costs and benefits, management effectiveness, governance, human-wildlife conflict, access to scarce resources, cultural heritage management and designing appropriate tourism are all addressed by the methodology. Training materials including videos are all available for P3DM as well as other participatory GIT tools. There is a global practitioner community and rapid access to solutions, advise and materials.


The programme has generated sustainable employment for both Khwe (a San ethnic group of the region) men and women, pride in traditional knowledge, and assisted in conservation in Bwabwata National Park. It has reinforced indigenous rights to land tenure by placing indigenous peoples in significant conservation rolesin their own territory. Formal assessment and recognition of traditional knowledge and competency, (consisting of rigorous assessment, grading, certification and training in new technology) unlocks a vast store of previously unavailable knowledge, data collection capacity, and innovative approaches to problem solving. At the same time issues of rural poverty and skills deficits are addressed. The use of traditional knowledge in climate data collections, monitoring, management and appropriate responses is particularly important for countries where long time series of traditional knowledge exist.

Contributed by

Friedrich Alpers

Other contributors

Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee
Alfred Chedau
Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee