Posted by: Craig Woolheater on June 20th, 2012
Giant lizards in Malaysia are real but customary beliefs in “cryptids” — creatures whose existence hasn’t been proven — has motivated conservation in some parts of the world.
Cultural practices including beliefs in mythical beasts and animals that dance have helped maintain forests in the West African country of the Gambia and Malaysian Borneo, said a researcher from Oxford University speaking at the annual meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation in Bonito, Brazil.
Ashley Massey looked at the relationship between forest cover and the perceived existence of a dinosaur-like creature known as the “Ninki-nanka” in the Gambia and dancing animals known as “Kopizo” in the Malaysian state of Sabah. In both cases, locals believed that encountering mythological animals in the forest would result in death, leading them to avoid areas where they are believed to reside.
In the Gambia, Massey found that mangrove areas and woodlands believed to be inhabited by the Ninki-nanka had higher levels of forest cover than official protected areas. In the villages surveyed, nearly everyone expressed fear and concern about the Ninki-nanka.
Dragon drawings: Adama M Saidy, Grade 6, Dumbuto Lower Basic School, The Gambia
Read the entire article at mongabay.com, the original source: Traditional belief in mythical beasts help protect forests
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