Mayangna Knowledge of the Interdependence of People and Nature: Fish and Turtles

By Paule M Gros and Nacilio Miguel Frithz

The Central American tropical rainforest along the border between Nicaragua and Honduras has been the home of the indigenous Mayangna and Miskito for centuries. Through their livelihoods based on slash and burn agriculture, fishing and hunting, they have both shaped the local ecological system and sheltered it from destruction. Their knowledge about the local flora and fauna is extensive and in-depth. This 450 page book – divided into two volumes - captures in meticulous detail the breadth and depth of indigenous knowledge about the aquatic world. A wide range of information about the 30 fishes and six turtles that frequent Mayangna waterways are presented, weaving together empirical observations on behaviour, habitat, reproduction and migration patterns, with social commentaries on sharing, learning or harvesting, and cosmological reflections on human-animal relations and master spirits. For the Mayangna and UNESCO, the book has two goals: it contributes to the transmission of indigenous knowledge of the natural world to subsequent generations of Mayangna and it demonstrates to the scientific community, and the general public, the unique nature of local knowledgeand the key role that the Mayangna play in sustainable resource use and biodiversity management of the BOSAWAS Biosphere Reserve.

The Spanish version (in 2 volumes) of the book was launched on 29 January 2010 at the UNESCO Conference on Biodiversity Science Policy for the International Year of Biodiversity. The Mayangna version (in 2 volumes) was successfully launched in July 2010 in Managua, Nicaragua.

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