Politics of Knowledge in Conservation: (De)valued Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Bote in Chitwan National Park, Nepal


  • Indra Mani Rai Tribhuvan University
  • Rebat Kumar Dhakal




Ethnoecology - Traditional ecological knowledge - Water sources


Political ecology studies have mostly explored the conflicts that arise between local communities and Indigenous peoples' (IPs') vulnerability to sustainable livelihoods based on nature and conservation regimes. Even in the context of the change in conservation tactics towards active community involvement and socioeconomic development, which has reinforced the fortress conservation strategy, traditional ways of life and the lived traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of IPs are under jeopardy. Nevertheless, the studies give little consideration to the way in which TEK is (de)valued for bolstering fortress conservation at the expense of IPs' livelihoods unsustainability. This study investigates the (de)valuation of TEK of Bote embedded in their traditional livelihoods through conservation management, based on a critical ethnographic investigation carried out in two villages of Bote IPs (in the Buffer Zone area) of Nawalparasi district of Chitwan National Park (CNP) –southern lowlands of Nepal. We argue that TEK is paralyzed by a conservation regime without acknowledging the symbiotic relationship between IPs and biodiversity.  Therefore, in order to conserve biodiversity and support the mutual sustainability of biodiversity and local livelihoods, there needs to be active guardianship and stewardship of IPs.


Acharya, U. P. (2010). Livelihood strategy of Bote community: a case study of Bote community of Patihani VDC of Chitwan. Dhaulagiri Journal of Sociology and Anthropology 4: 247–260. https://doi.org/10.3126/dsaj.v4i0.4524 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3126/dsaj.v4i0.4524

Adams, W. M. (2015). The political ecology of conservation conflicts. In S. M. Redpath, R. J. Guti´errez, K. A. Wood and J. C. Young (Eds.), Conflicts in conservation: navigating towards solutions (pp. 64–75). Cambridge University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139084574.006

Adams, W. M., & Hutton, J. M. (2007). People, park and poverty: Political ecology and biodiversity conservation. Conservation and Society 5(2): 147-183. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26392879

Acharya, P., Chhetri, H. B., Karki, S., Sharma, P., Tripathi, S., Gahatraj, S., Dahal, D. and Gautam, D. (2020). Ecotourism and its impact on local community in Sauraha, Chitwan National Park, Nepal. Scholars Journal of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences 8(7): 1–8. https://doi.org/10.36347/sjahss.2020.v08i07.00X DOI: https://doi.org/10.36347/sjahss.2020.v08i07.003

Amnesty International and Community Self-Reliance Centre. (2021). Violations in the name of conservation: what crime had I committed by putting my feet on the land that I own? Amnesty International Ltd.

Aryal, K., Dhungana, R. & Silwal, T. (2020). Understanding policy arrangement for wildlife conservation in protected areas of Nepal. Human Dimensions of Wildlife. https://doi.org/10.1080/10871209.2020.1781983 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10871209.2020.1781983

Bajracharya, L. (2009). Biodiversity conservation in buffer zone – problems and opportunities: conservation practices, buffer zone vegetation and livelihood needs in Pithauli VDC, Chitwan National Park, Nepal [Unpublished master’s dissertation]. Tribhuvan University.

Berkes, F. (1993). Traditional ecological knowledge in perspective. In J. T. Inglis (Ed.), Traditional ecological knowledge: concepts and cases (pp. 1–9). International Development Research Centre. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315114644-1

Berkes, F. and Berkes, M. K. (2009). Ecological complexity, fuzzy logic, and holism in indigenous knowledge. Futures 41(1): 6–12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2008.07.003 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2008.07.003

Bhattachan, K. B. (2012). Country technical notes on indigenous peoples’ issues: Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42088-8_18 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42088-8_18

Bhattarai, B. R., Wright, W., Poudel, B. S., Aryal, A., Yadav, B. P. and Wagle, R. (2017). Shifting paradigms for Nepal’s protected areas: history, challenges and relationships. Journal of Mountain Science 14(5): 964–979. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11629-016-3980-9 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11629-016-3980-9

Bhusal, N. P. (2007). Chitwan National Park: a prime destination of eco-tourism in central terai region, Nepal. The Third Pole 5(7): 70–75. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3126/ttp.v5i0.1956

Bhusal, N. P. (2014). Buffer zone management system in protected areas of Nepal. The Third Pole Journal of Geography Education: 34–44. https://doi.org/10.3126/ttp.v11i0.11558 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3126/ttp.v11i0.11558

Beltrán, J. (Ed.) (2000). Indigenous and traditional peoples and protected areas: principles, guidelines and case studies. IUCN and WWF International. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.CH.2000.PAG.4.en

Biswakarma, G. and Gurung, P. (2018). Impact of tourism on indigenous Bote community of Chitwan National Park. Journal on Tourism and Sustainability 1(2): 21–34.

Bohensky, E. L. and Maru, Y. (2011). Indigenous knowledge, science, and resilience: what have we learned from a decade of international literature on “integration”? Ecology and Society 16(4): 6. http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04342-160406 DOI: https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-04342-160406

Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2018). Research methods in education (8th ed.). Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315456539

Doffana, Z. D., (2017). Sacred natural sites, herbal medicine, medicinal plants and their conservation in Sidama, Ethiopia. Cogent Food and Agriculture 3. https://doi.org/10.1080/23311932.2017.1365399 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/23311932.2017.1365399

Domínguez, L. and Luoma, C. (2020). Decolonising conservation policy: how colonial land and conservation ideologies persist and perpetuate indigenous injustices at the expense of the environment. Land 9(3): 65. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/land9030065 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/land9030065

Du, W., Penabaz-Wiley, S. M., Njeru, A. M. and Kinoshita, I. (2015). Models and approaches for integrating protected areas with their surroundings: a review of the literature. Sustainability 7: 8151–8177. https://doi.org/10.3390/su7078151 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/su7078151

Dudley, N. (2008). Guidelines for applying protected area management categories including IUCN WCPA best practice guidance on recognising protected areas and assigning management categories and governance types. IUCN DOI: https://doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.CH.2008.PAPS.2.en

Flick, U. (2018). The sage handbook of qualitative data collection. Sage. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4135/9781526416070

Gadgil, M., Berkes, F. and Folke, C. (2021). Indigenous knowledge: from local to global. Ambio 50: 967–969. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-020-01478-7 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-020-01478-7

Gezon, L. L. and Paulson, S. (2005). Place, power and difference: multiscale research at the dawn of the twenty-first century. In S. Paulson and L. L. Gezon (Eds.), Political ecology across spaces, scales and social groups (pp. 1–16). Rutgers University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.36019/9780813542546-002

Ghimire, P. (2019). Landscape level efforts to biodiversity conservation in Nepal: a review of current approach and lessons learned. Grassroots Journal of Natural Resources 2(3): 16–24. https://doi.org/10.33002/nr2581.6853.02032 DOI: https://doi.org/10.33002/nr2581.6853.02032

Heinen, J. T. and Kattel, B. (1992). Parks, people, and conservation: a review of management issues in Nepal’s protected areas. Population and Environment 14(1): 49–84. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01254607 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01254607

Higgins, C. (1998). The role of traditional ecological knowledge in managing for biodiversity. The Forest Chronicle 74(3): 323–326. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5558/tfc74323-3

International Labor Organization. (2009). International labor organization convention No. 169, The indigenous and tribal peoples convention, 1989.

Jana, S. (2007a). Local movement of indigenous fishing communities around Chitwan National Park. Sustainable Mountain Development 52: 30–32.

Jana, S. (2007b). Working towards environmental justice : an indigenous fishing minority’s movement in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. ICIMOD. DOI: https://doi.org/10.53055/ICIMOD.483

Jessen, M. H. and von Eggers, N. (2020). Governmentality and stratification: towards a Foucauldian theory of the state. Theory, Culture & Society 37(1): 53–72. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263276419849099 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0263276419849099

Khadka, R. K. and Tiwari, S. R. (2020). Improved aquaculture for sustainable livelihood in Majhi community : a case from Bhimtar, Sindupalchowk. Proceedings of 8th IOE Graduate Conference 8: 252–262.

Lam, L. M. (2011). Cultural perspectives of land and livelihoods: a case study of Shuklaphata Wildlife Reserve in Far-western Nepal. Conservation and Society 9(4): 311–324. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4103/0972-4923.92146

Lamichhane, S., Joshi, R., Poudel, B. and Subedi, P. (2020). Role of community in leading conservation: effectiveness, success, and challenges of a community-based antipoaching unit in Nepal. Grassroots Journal of Natural Resources 3(4): 94–109. https://doi.org/10.33002/nr2581.6853.03046 DOI: https://doi.org/10.33002/nr2581.6853.03046

Lamichhane, B.R., Persoon, G.A., Leirs, H., Musters, C.J.M., Subedi, N., Gairhe, K.P., Pokheral, C.P., Poudel, S., Mishra, R., Dhakal, M., Smith, J.L.D., & de Iongh, H. H. (2017). Are conflict-causing tigers different? Another perspective for understanding human-tiger conflict in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. Global Ecology and Conservation, 11, 177-178. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2017.06.003 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2017.06.003

Lamichhane, B. R., Persoon, G. A., Leirs, H., Poudel, S., Subedi, N., Pokhrel, C. P., Bhattarai, S., Gotame, P., Mishra, R. and de longh, H. H. (2019). Contribution of buffer zone programs to reduce human-wildlife impacts: the case of the Chitwan National Park, Nepal. Human Ecology 47: 95–110. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-019-0054-y DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-019-0054-y

Maurial, M. (1999). Indigenous knowledge and schooling: a continuum between conflict and dialogue. In L. M. Semali and J. L. Kincheloe (Eds.), What is indigenous knowledge? Voices from the academy (pp. 59–77). Falmer Press.

McLean, J. (1999). Conservation and the impact of relocation on the Tharus of Chitwan, Nepal. The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies 19(2): 38–44.

Mishra, H. R. (1982). Balancing human needs and conservation in Nepal's Royal Chitwan Park. Ambio: 246–251.

National Trust for Nature Conservation. (2021). 752 one-horned rhinos in Nepal determined by the National Rhino Count 2021. https://bit.ly/3IL5yLx

Orb, A., Eisenhauer, L., & Wynaden, D. (2001). Ethics in qualitative research. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 31 (1), 93 – 96. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1547-5069.2001.00093.x

Pemunta, N. V. (2019). Fortress conservation, wildlife legislation and the Baka Pygmies of southeast Cameroon. GeoJournal, 84, 1035–1055. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10708-018-9906-z

Pitsoe, V. and Letseka, M. (2013). Foucault’s discourse and power: implications for instructionist classroom management. Open Journal of Philosophy 3(1): 23–28. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4236/ojpp.2013.31005

Poudel, H. K. (2019) Park people conflict management and its control measures in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. International Journal of Food Science and Agriculture 3(3): 179–182. https://doi.org/10.26855/ijfsa.2019.09.005 DOI: https://doi.org/10.26855/ijfsa.2019.09.005

Rai, J. and Majhi, H. (2014). Majhi of Nepal. Tribhuvan University.

Reyes-García, V., Fernández-Llamazares, Á., Aumeeruddy-Thomas, Y., Benyei, P., Bussmann, R. W., Diamond, S. K., García-del-Amo, D., Guadilla-Sáez, S., Hanazaki, N. … Brondizio, E. S. (2022). Recognizing indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights and agency in the post-2020 biodiversity agenda. Ambio 51(1): 84–92. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-021-01561-7. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-021-01561-7

Rosyara, K. P. (2009). Health and sanitation status of Bote community. Journal of Institute of Medicine 31(3): 41–45. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3126/jiom.v31i3.2996

Robbins, P. and Doolittle, A. A. (Eds.). (2012). Fortress conservation. In P. Robbins and A. A. Doolittle (Eds.), Encyclopedia of environment and society. Sage.

Stapp, J. R., Lilieholm, R. J., Leahy, J. and Upadhaya, S. (2016). Linking attitudes, policy, and forest cover change in buffer zone communities of Chitwan National Park, Nepal. Environment Management 57(6): 292–303. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-016-0682-6 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-016-0682-6

Shrestha, U. (2013). Community participation in wetland conservation in Nepal. Journal of Agriculture and Environment 12: 140–147. https://doi.org/10.3126/aej.v12i0.7574 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3126/aej.v12i0.7574

Toledo, V. M. (2013). Indigenous peoples and biodiversity. In Encyclopedia of biodiversity (2nd ed., pp. 269–278). Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-384719-5.00299-9 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-384719-5.00299-9

Thing, S. J., Jones, R. and Jones, C. B. (2017). The politics of conservation: Sonaha, riverscape in the Bardia National Park and buffer zone, Nepal. Conservation and Society 15(3): 292-303. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4103/cs.cs_15_2

Thing, S. J. and Poudel, B. (2017). Buffer zone community forestry in Nepal: Examining tenure and management outcomes. Journal of Forest and Livelihood 15(1): 57–70. DOI: 10.3126/jfl.v15i1.23096 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3126/jfl.v15i1.23096

UNESCO. (2021). State of conservation report of Chitwan National Park. https://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/4217

United Nations. (1992). Convention on biological diversity. https://www.cbd.int/doc/legal/cbd-en.pdf

United Nations. (2007). United Nations declaration of human rights of indigenous peoples. https://bit.ly/2SfIrLV

Ward, C., Stringer, L. C. and Holmes, G. (2018). Protected area co-management and perceived livelihood impacts. Journal of Environmental Management 228: 1-12. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.09.018

Whyte, K. P. (2013). Justice forward: tribes, climate adaptation and responsibility. Climatic Change 120: 517–530. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0743-2 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0743-2




How to Cite

Mani Rai, I., & Kumar Dhakal, R. (2024). Politics of Knowledge in Conservation: (De)valued Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Bote in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. Ethnobiology and Conservation, 13. https://doi.org/10.15451/ec2024-01-13.04-1-13



Original research article