Wilderness Safaris Group Culture Coordinator, Bongani Baloyi, recently participated in the 16th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE), and the 12th Symposium of the Brazilian Society of Ethnobiology and Ethnoecology, both of which took place in Belém do Pará, Brazil, in August 2018.
Organised by the Federal University of Pará and the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, in collaboration with ISE and the Brazilian Society of Ethnobiology, the symposium brought together traditional communities from all over the world to discuss the rights of indigenous and traditional peoples and the sustainable uses of biodiversity. The symposium reflected on the Declaration of Belém, a pioneering document developed in 1988, which highlighted the connection between traditional peoples and biodiversity, with regards to their rights to territories, natural resources and ancestral knowledge.
“It was an honour to have attended this symposium and share best practices, especially on Wilderness Safaris’ various community conservation projects across the SADC region, and how as a company we have helped conserve and restore wilderness areas, all while benefiting local people”, said Bongani.
Bongani, together with Sydney Shibambu and former CITW Eco-Club member, Norman Chauke, all from the Makuleke Community in Limpopo Province, presented at six sessions, and participated in three main round-table discussions on conservation and management of biodiversity.
In addition to the Belem 30 Declaration, accepting formal statements from the Makuleke Contractual Park and including them in the declaration, Bongani met with officials from the Associação Floresta Protegida, the indigenous Kayapo People of the Amazon rainforests, and Federal University of Para officials, with a milestone exchange visit between Kayapo and the Makuleke people planned for early 2019.
“This was an important platform for Wilderness Safaris, as the symposium aligned with three of our 4Cs sustainability ethos, namely Community, Culture and Conservation, and we are confident that Wilderness Safaris will continue to play an important role in driving sustainable ecotourism in Africa”, Bongani concluded.