Monday 9th August is The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
Despite making up 5% of the world’s population and having a vital role in achieving Global Goals to protect biodiversity, Indigenous Peoples are often marginalised. Their knowledge is key to supporting conservation efforts across the world and today is an opportunity for us to shine a light on some of the work that we do with indigenous communities.
We are working with the Dakshin Foundation to remove Lantana camara, an invasive plant which suppresses the growth of native vegetation and chokes the habitats of innumerable species of wildlife, including elephants. Of South India’s prime elephant habitat, 30% has been completely taken over by Lantana but with a team of local community members and indigenous peoples, our work is removing this harmful species from the landscape. Not does this improve biodiversity and restore wildlife habitat, but the Lantana can also be used to make crafts, furniture, and biomass briquettes to be used as a fuel source which provides financial income for indigenous communities.
If you had the chance to meet the CoExistence herd and hear their story during their stay in London’s Royal Parks earlier this summer, you would have learnt that they were created by indigenous communities who live alongside the real-life versions of each individual herd member. We work with The Real Elephant Collective to partner with artisans belonging to indigenous communities from Tamil Nadu who recreated real-life elephants in sculptural form, creating the 100+ strong CoExistence herd.
Indigenous Peoples inhabit approximately 85% of areas proposed for biodiversity conservation worldwide but these communities often face intense challenges from actions designed to conserve wildlife. As more emphasis is placed on protecting global biodiversity, the role of indigenous communities in conservation must continue to be recognised not just on days like today but throughout all stages of decision making that will determine the future health of our planet.