Biodiversity has fundamental values to humans, because we are dependent on it for our nutritional, cultural, economic, and environmental/ecological well-being and the mismanagement of biodiversity leads to resource decline and biodiversity crisis. Moreover, Indigenous Knowledge develops in local contexts to solve local problems, and it is just another form of knowledge which does not set itself in opposition to sciences. However, values of biodiversity and manifold roles of indigenous knowledge including biodiversity conservations are overlooked and are at a risk of getting extinct in general and in Ethiopia in particular. The objective of this study was to collect information on the values of biodiversity, its current status and conservation of biodiversity using indigenous knowledge of the Zeyse, Zergula and Ganta communities in Southern Ethiopia. Data were collected from six focus group discussions (Native Individuals with age range: 30 to120) to achieve the goals of the research and all of the discussants were indigenous members of each community. A qualitative research design was used and the data were organized and analyzed around the key themes of the research.The result showed value of the biodiversity including specific values of plant biodiversity- Arundinaria alpinak and Moringa stenopetala as human assets for the livelihood of the community. Moreover, the result indicated strong traditional beliefs, laws and customs and affections towards nature to conserve biodiversity including sacred trees and animals (totems). However, the results also indicated, currently, these cultural values of the communities to conserve biodiversity using indigenous knowledge were at a risk of getting extinct/endangered, which resulted in the loss of biodiversity in the study areas. The study result indicated specific values of biodiversity for the livelihood of the communities and strong ties between indigenous knowledge and biodiversity conservation. Therefore, we need to empower indigenous people to protect their culture embodying indigenous knowledge, belief systems of protecting nature, and cultural practices that promote sustainable biodiversity conservation.
Key words: Biodiversity, Indigenous knowledge, wildlife, Nature, Conservation, totem
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