Ancient Myths Proven to Help Environmental Protection

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In a speech delivered at the annual meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation in Brazil, Ashley Massey, a researcher from Oxford University, recently explained that certain cultural beliefs are in fact beneficial to the well-being of the natural world, especially when it comes to keeping some forest areas safe from harm. Massey cites evidence that in both the West African country of Gambia and Malaysian Borneo, most indigenous people refuse to explore the nearby woods.

Similar cases of environmental protection that comes as a result of cultural superstitions are to be found in Brazil, where the Kamayurá tribe is convinced that a two-headed invisible jaguar lives in some secluded forest areas. By avoiding these parts of the woods, the locals provide the Brazilian wildlife with a proper ground for breeding.

As ACT President Mark Plotkin explains, “This was the Kamayurá’s way of saying that it was a protected area where hunting was not allowed.”

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