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Cambridge University Science Magazine
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Image 11-04-2016 at 11.46

Hunter-gatherer groups alive today are most often viewed in one of two ways; primitive, violent hunters, or as the hippies of the forest (the so-called ‘ecologically noble savage’). In reality, of course, neither is true, though certainly such groups have the potential to be a conservation organisation’s best ally. This is based on the incredibly comprehensive knowledge indigenous groups often have of their home environment – an environment which is most likely one of the world’s most biodiverse areas.

So why are the conservation movement and indigenous peoples not working together? The biggest issue is a lack of understanding, as well as ‘top-down’ methods, the legacy of colonial-era ideals.

In this exclusive interview with BlueSci, Survival International campaigner Mike Hurran explains why indigenous groups have been continuously exploited in the name of conservation, including the connection between WWF and ongoing abuse of the Baka hunter-gatherers in Cameroon, and how best to initiate a transformation in the way the world sees and treats indigenous peoples.

“The idea that indigenous peoples are the best conservationists, so that doesn’t mean that they’re perfect, but they’re better at conserving their land than anyone else, is true and its backed up by lots of evidence, whereas large conservation organisations are often hopelessly out of touch with reality”

I started out by asking Mike why indigenous groups are repeatedly taken advantage of.

BlueSci would like to thank Mike Hurran and Survival International for this opportunity. The Survival action campaign involving WWF can be found here

Image: © Survival International: Wildlife officers attacked this Baka woman with pepper spray and destroyed her cooking pots