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The indigenous peoples of Guyana's South Rupununi share a close bond with their natural environment and surroundings, which has sustained them with all of the resources they needed for millennia. However, fast changes in the socio-economic, cultural, and environmental surroundings are jeopardizing this connection, causing shifts in cultural, traditional, and societal values, and putting the region's abundant natural resources at risk. Wildlife is a crucial resource for the Southern Rupununi indigenous peoples, as it is for other indigenous peoples in Guyana. Wildlife provides a substantial portion of their nutrition, is culturally significant, and helps to maintain environmental equilibrium. The South Rupununi District Council, which represents 21 indigenous communities, has taken the lead in biodiversity management and conservation throughout the region. The Wapichan Wiizi Wildlife Committee (WWWC) was formed in 2019 to organize conversation for the long-term management of wildlife in the Rupununi's south. Since then, several community-led initiatives (steeped in customary laws while acknowledging and applying academic methods), such as the development of wildlife use guidelines in eight villages, a biocultural assessment of the Karaawaimin Taawa mountain chain, and coordination of wildlife management discussions with various rights holders and stakeholders, have all ignited wildlife management discussions, which will eventually culminate in the development of a Wildlife Management Plan. The South Rupununi District Council hopes that this management plan would serve as a road map and strategy for the long-term sustainable use and management of wildlife in the south Rupununi, emphasizing the significance of dialogue and co-management, particularly with the Guyana government.

Keywords:

Indigenous peoples, South Rupununi, Guyana, Conservation, Wildlife management, co-management

Timothy Williams

Presentation within symposium:

S-38 Empowerment of IPLCs and Biocultural approaches to wildlife management and conservation: examples from Guyana

Wapichan Wiizi wildlife management plan in South Rupununi, Guyana: community leadership in biocultural assessments and management planning

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