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Traditional Beliefs Impacting on Biodiversity conservation


In the day-to-day socio-cultural lives of the traditional African, beliefs have and still play an important role. These beliefs have by and large shaped his attitude towards the natural environment around him. In many African societies, there are many beliefs associated with different natural phenomena, features and behaviours. For example, mountains, deep caves, valleys, waterfalls, very big trees etc are believed to be gods themselves or the abodes of certain gods and spirits. As a result of this belief these resources are protected and sometimes the forest or the location in which the resource is situated is protected and entry is forbidden except for special purposes. Rivers and their biological entities are protected by forbidding people from cutting trees along their banks for the reason that the rivers must not be allowed to go naked by stripping them of their clothes.

The following are some other beliefs that are prevalent in the African society:

· The earth (asaase Yaa) is a mother born on Thursday.
· The spirits of nature including the earth and water bodies deserve a period of rest.
· Ancestors are spirits who constantly observe the behaviour of the living
· Ancestors reward those who act in accordance with societal values and punish those who exhibit deviant behaviors
· Owning land bestows on you the responsibility to manage and conserve it for future generations and at the same time account for one's stewardship to the ancestors
· Very large/important/economic trees should not be felled without some rituals being performed otherwise the culprit and/or his family will suffer severe consequences including death (Opoku, 1993, Abayie-Boaten 1997, Pers. Com.)
¨ One should not farm about 30m close to a water body lest he will die.
¨ Farming activities should not be done on taboo days (day/s set aside within the week where the spirits of the earth are offered the opportunity to rest). These are called "nnabone" (lit. -bad days). Similarly, fetching of water from some rivers/streams is forbidden on such days.
¨ Fishing is forbidden on Tuesdays among the coastal ethnic groups in Ghana. It is the taboo day on which the sea god "Bosompo" is expected to rest.
¨ It is a taboo to kill any animal that is pregnant, nursing young ones, mating or drinking from a stream.


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