Unlocking Potential: Optimizing Traditional Science in Conservation and Youth Engagement

An interactive conversation with Aiita Joshua, a wildlife biologist from Uganda, who's championing youth engagement in conservation using traditional science, knowledge sharing, and capacity building.
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As part of my Conservation Catalyst role, I sat down with Aiita Joshua, a communication co-lead at the Afrikan Youth Caravan.

In this interview, we talk about Aiita's conservation journey; his selection as a National Geographic Society's Young Explorer; how to use storytelling and science-telling effectively as a conversation tool; and leveraging traditional science in conservation policy formulation.

Aiita Joshua is a Ugandan wildlife biologist with a background in Wildlife Health and Management. He has three years of progressive experience in conservation and climate policy. He is currently a communication co-lead at the Afrikan Youth Caravan.

Through his work, he is using science-telling and storytelling to help young people identify their niche and how to progress their careers in the conservation space.

He launched "Your Nature Inspiration" a program where he guides young people in identifying their niche using traditional knowledge. He does this by creating a sharing space/circle where they discuss prevalent issues in their communities, why they matter to the individual's community, what traditional knowledge can be leveraged to solve the issue, and which skills can build their capacity to solve the problem. (from min 12.00)

Aiita strongly believes there is an intergenerational gap that has led to the degradation and loss of indigenous knowledge. This has prompted him to launch a project that will assess the link between conservation and culture in the Virunga landscape in Uganda (from min 15:26).

In Uganda, when you meet your fellow tribesmen or travel to another area they ask about your clan. Why don't policies consider how people can be involved at the clan level rather than through governmental systems or structures? (Aiita Joshua, Communication Co-lead, Afrikan Youth Caravan)

He was selected as a National Geographic Society's Young Explorer for the 2023 cohort. He reckons that this is a sign that people are drawing inspiration from his work despite being in his early-career stage (min 19:50).

Despite conservation being full of discoveries and learnings, he admits that his conservation journey hasn't been easy and he wishes he knew that it would have been difficult to secure opportunities (min 24:44). 

He mentions that there is a large focus on modern day science with little acknowledgement of traditional knowledge but that is gradually changing. Recognizing both traditional science and conventional science could improve policy framework and conservation in Africa (from min 26:01).

Aiita considers WildHub a safe space where people get to interact freely, air out issues, and get some advice. 

First time I attended a WildHub social, what struck me was that I was with older people in the room and it was a free-flow discussion, non-discriminatory, free learning, free sharing, and that's one way WildHub has helped me. (Aiita Joshua, Communication Co-lead, Afrikan Youth Caravan)  

Aiita is championing conservation by bridging intergenerational gaps, leveraging traditional science, and helping young people find a footing in conservation.

Thank you @Aiita Joshua Apamaku for the riveting conversation and willingness to share your experience and insights with the WildHub community. Would you like to contact him or learn more about his work? You can reach him on email or LinkedIn

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Go to the profile of Thirza Loffeld
9 months ago

I really enjoyed listening to your free-flowing conversation @Aiita Joshua Apamaku and @Muthoni Njuguna : thank you both for sharing your experiences and insights with our WildHub community!

Valuable points that you both discussed about the intergenerational gaps that are currently experienced (I find the same here in the UK and the Netherlands where I grew up). I believe @Eberechi Cecilia Osuagwu, wildhub advocate  is also aiming to bridge that gap in a project where her students ask their families and the communities they are part of about their traditional ecological knowledge/science and write this up for publication. It may be interested for you to connect about this with Eby?

@Aiita Joshua Apamaku : congrats also for being selected a National Geographic Society's Young Explorer! Also useful to hear the benefits WildHub has had for you; your feedback is much appreciated. Is there anything the WildHub community can do to help you in your journey (for example with your project around culture and conservation)? Any contacts or pieces of knowledge that would help you at this point in time? 

Go to the profile of Beth Robinson
8 months ago

What a brilliant and insightful interview, thanks both for sharing.