Form Submission: Participation Entry

Wildlife conservation efforts are increasingly using indigenous knowledge (IK), drawn from multigenerational, place-based experiences of indigenous communities. Yet often these programs have unknowingly been employing IK when they rely on local field guides from these communities. The explicit consideration of IK is needed to achieve its ethical and successful integration into wildlife conservation. In the northwestern Bolivian Amazon, Tsimane community members are expert wildlife trackers and serve as field guides for ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and other carnivore monitoring programs. I examined a method for incorporating IK-based spoor tracking surveys into camera trap grids to minimize the number of cameras required and maximize inclusion of IK. Elevating the role of IK not only reduces costs, but also strengthens cross-cultural, long-term relationships with communities. This study highlights the need to reframe IK in science-based conservation programs. I further recommend that indigenous people have greater agency in determining actions based on wildlife research.