Indigenous knowledge about the Amazonian catfish in Colombia

Indigenous knowledge about the Amazonian catfish in Colombia

Colombia - 04 September, 2018

For more than two decades, Tropenbos Colombia has dedicated itself to documenting local knowledge through supporting research conducted by indigenous communities in the mid-Caquetá region of Colombia. Indigenous peoples’ knowledge of flora and fauna species and their ecological relationships is exceptionally detailed since it is rooted in their close, long-time interaction with their habitat.

TBI encourages western scientists to integrate indigenous knowledge into their research. TBI also promotes the documentation of indigenous knowledge- such as maps, drawings and oral narrations — to encourage public institutions to include indigenous communities and their knowledge in decision-making processes about their territory and its conservation.

For more than two decades, the fisherman Luis Angel Trujillo, the indigenous biologist and artist Confucio Hernandez, from the Uitoto group and Carlos Rodríguez, director of Tropenbos Colombia, have been documenting traditional knowledge of the seven big Amazonian catfishes. Their material includes information on the anatomy, life cycle and ecological relationships of the catfish, as well as a list of species on which the catfish feeds. Their work has contributed important new knowledge to western science. In 2017, their information and illustrations were presented at several symposia and events. The Colombian scientific community emphasised the relevance of the work to the advancement of the conservation of tropical forests in Colombia.

The publication "Piraiba: Ecología ilustrada del gran bagre amazónico" recently published brings together the documented knowledge, accompanied with illustrations by Confucio Hernandez. Tropenbos Colombia hopes that it will inspire universities to include the study of traditional knowledge in their curricula and that public institutions will include the local knowledge of traditional fishermen in their decision-making processes.

Original article published in the Annual Report 2017

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