From Tradition to Conservation: Unleashing Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Flagship Species in Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia
With the growth of the need to conserve biodiversity and institutionalization of environmental concerns, Walia ibex has been employed as a flagship species for conservation. This study explores the role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in biodiversity conservation using the flagship species of the Simien Mountains National Park (SMNP). The researchers used in-depth interview and observation as data collection tools and corroborated by archival documents. The study, thus, revealed that the Park has faced several obstacles, from the start, stemmed from attempts to impose a Western ecological ethos without taking into account values of the local people, leading to friction between the inhabitants and the park's administration. Because of their long-standing cohabitation and shared commitment to the park's preservation, local populations are shown to have a deep understanding of the SMNP's wild species' habits, habitats, and population fluctuations. One of the ways which they used to conserve biodiversity is the dissemination of crucial data on wild animals, difficult to obtain even for specialists and explorers. TEK, thus, is found to be a way of life and is the potent tool to transform the Park to one of the worlds’ endearing heritage sites.