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Prospecting Ethnobotany in Tourism Industry
Concepts of Ethnobotany Ethnobotany is the study of plants used, conserved and managed by the people of a locality or a region or a country or crosscountries. Thus, this discipline deals with how people of a particular area use plants for their food, fodder for their animals, medicine for human and livestock, pigments for dyeing cloths or hairs, pesticides for controlling diseases and insect pests, piscicides for catching fish for food, rodenticides for repelling or killing rodents, religious and cultural purposes, artifacts for household uses and decoration, wood for furniture, fuelwood for cooling food, etc. Ethnobotany in Higher Education This discipline is institutionalized in Nepal’s universities such as Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu University and Pachhimanchal University (SCHEM). Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS) of Tribhuvan University has developed two courses namely “Fundamental of Ethnobiology” and “Applied Ethnobotany” offered in the B. Sc. Ag. Elective course package of Conservation Ecology and M. Sc. Ag. (Conservation Ecology), respectively. Ethnobanical/ethnobiological Researches in Chitwan Chitwan district has gained much attention from the researchers to study ethnobotany or ethnobiology. Ethnobotany of Tharus (Rana Bhat, 2006; Rana Bhat et al., 2007; Dangol, 2003, 2006; Dangol & Gurung, 1987; Mueller-Boeker, 1993, 1999), Darai (Dangol and Gurung, 2000), Kumal (Dongol, 2002; Dangol, A. 2004) and Bote (Pradhan, 2006; Pradhan et al., 2006) and ethnobiology of Danuwar (Kafle, 2000; Pathak, 2000) and Musahar (Koirala, 2004). ethnobotany of Padampur (Arun
Rijal, 1994), wild edible plants of RCNP (Anita Mahara, 1999). Few studies have also been conducted as practice of data collection during training on ethnobotany (ESON, 1997). Among the researchers, Rijal, Mahara, Pradhan, Rana Bhat, Pathak, Kafle, and Koirala carried out their thesis researches. Institute for Social and Environmental Research carried out community biodiversity and traditional knowledge documentation projects in Chitwan. Ethnobotany Resources at IAAS Ethnobotany research: Faculties and students of the IAAS documented local knowledge on flora and fauna, conducted awareness camps on ethnobotany/ ethnobiology, prepared video documentary film of Chitwan district. This district is well recognized by ethnobotanists/ethnobiologists of the organizations ranging from governmental to INGOs. These organizations conducted a wide range of ethnobotany research. The faculties of the IAAS have conducted researches individually or in groups on local innovation, ethnobotany, indigenous pest management, traditional agriculture with the support of IUCN, PROLINNOVA Nepal Program, NEFIN, Ecological Services Centre, Winrock International, etc. The faculties of different department of the institute are also encouraging students to conduct thesis research on applied aspect of the ethnobotany or ethnopharmacy. Artifact collection: Artifacts made/used by the Tharu community or associated with their culture have been collected and displayed in the Resource Centre at IAAS. This centre houses over 150 artifacts which are very important attraction for tourism at IAAS. Herbarium specimens: IAAS has collections of the herbarium
specimens. These specimens are the outcomes of the ethnobotanical researches on Tharu, Darai and Bote communities conducted by IAAS faculties and students. Herbal demonstration plots: Department of Environmental Science has a demonstration area with 68 plots displaying local medicinal plants used for cold, cough, fever, family planning, etc. Some local medicines include Scoparia dulcis, Centella asiatica, Helicteres isora, Pogostemon benghalensis, Costus speciosus, Mimosa pudica, Rauvolfia serpentina, Calotropis gigantea, Murraya koenigii. Gurau: The Local Healing Practitioners Tharu is one of the ethnic communities mostly researched. Dangol (2003) compiled a list of 179 Tharu healers residing in different villages of Chitwan. Similarly, there are many elder people ethnic groups such as Chepangs, Darai, Kumal, and Botes, who are engaged in healing system or having medical knowledge system. Ethnic Cultural Museum: Learning centre for traditional culture There are two Tharu cultural Museum and one Chepang Cultural Museum located in three VDCs of Chitwan district. The Cultural Museum of Chepang is located in Shaktikhor, where as Tharu cultural Museum are located in Bachhauli VDC, near to Sauraha and another in Sisai Village of Dibyanagar VDC. Tourism The vast knowledge of local people on plants and animals plus resources should be capitalized for the development of tourism. As Chitwan has more than 5 ethnic groups, it has a great potential of ethnic tourism. Based on ethnic people and their knowledge on
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biological resources, we can run education tourism, research tourism, agritourism, village tourism, etc. Tour Packages or Activities The tourists or visitors who wish to learn ethnobotanical research in Chitwan can visit IAAS where visitors can have opportunity to interact with experts on ethnobotany, ethnoveterinary, and agriculture. They can also study documents or reports and scientific papers published in national and international journals or proceedings. They can also meet students who are applying indigenous knowledge in agriculture, animal science and veterinary sciences. In addition, visitors can learn joint experimentations on local innovations where one can also learn how to document local innovation on ecologically oriented agriculture and natural resource management. Tourists can also visit herbal farm in Meghauli VDC and learn about traditional medicine from Danda Pani Kafle. They can also observe action research on traditional innovations in Dibyanagar or Shukranagar VDC. Visitors can also observe local medicinal plants or wild edible plants demonstrated in IAAS or eye contacts with the specimens or artifacts or innovations deposited in the Local Knowledge and Innovation Resource Centre at IAAS. In another way, visitors can participate one-week long tour package developed for learning ethnobotany from the ethnic people and proposal writing taking the
One-Week Tour Package for learning ethnobotany in Chitwan
Day I: Day II: Arrival at Rampur. Orientation on the program Visit to the Department of Environmental Science and Veterinary Teaching Hospital and interact with the faculties for learning their researches and experiences on ethnobotany and ethnoveterinary medicines or ethnopharmacy Field visits to ethnic villages of the Kumals, Tharus, Darais, Bote/Majhis in different villages of Chitwan district. Field visit to Shaktikhor VDC, meeting with Chepang people to understand their culture and tradition, agriculture and bioresources in which they depend on. Explore and prioritize problems facing by this tribe and prepare an action plan for further action in future. Proposal writing and come back to Rampur Campus
Day III: Day IV:
Day VI: Finalizing proposal and presenting final version in power point in front of faculties and students at Rampur Campus, Certificate distribution. Farewell dinner Day VII: Departure to original place issues/problems of an ethnic groups (Box 1). During this tour, tourists can understand biological resources, deep knowledge on resources use, enjoy traditional dances and food, or participate in sightseeing with local guides. One can also experience unique nature and way of living in nature. Ways for Coming Days Ethnobotanical resources generated during teaching and researches at IAAS and other institutions in Chitwan are potential to tourism development and promotion. This opportunity can be grabbed and fully utilized by the tourism planners and developers in order to diversify the tourism products and tourists and increase the stay of tourists/visitors in ethnic villages and create opportunities of business for income generation of the rural people. The ethnobotany resources can be directly linked with tourism in many ways in the form of ethnic tourism or education tourism or research tourism or rural tourism or ecotourism or responsible tourism or many more.
Dharma Raj Dangol, Ph. D. Department of Environmental Science Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science Tribhuvan University Rampur, Chitwan, Nepal
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