THE POTENTIAL ROLES OF SACRED NATURAL SITE(S) AND CULTURAL VALUES OF BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION IN ZURU COMMUNITY OF KEBBI STATE, NIGERIA
Sacred Natural Sites (SNSs) are specific natural areas of the earth, which are believed to have spiritual, religious, cultural or historical significance to people or communities. These sites in recent times are recognized by conservationists as one of the primary networks of biodiversity conservation, because they connect people with nature. Many SNSs exist in Nigeria, but are understudied. Germache is a SNS that is located in Zuru Local Government Area of Kebbi State, Nigeria. This study determined the potential roles of Germache SNS and the cultural values of the community members on biodiversity conservation. An ethnographical research method consisting of a semi-structured questionnaire and Focus Group Discussion was used to assess and document the Indigenous Knowledge on Cultural Values of biodiversity conservation in the community. Responses from key informants who were between ages 25 and 75 years and have spent at least 20 years in the community identified crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) as a totem. Adansonia digitata and Vitellaria paradoxa were regarded as sacred monumental plants. About 87% of the respondents indicated an observed increased in crocodile population and vegetation cover over the years. Therefore, the site has a potential for biodiversity conservation due to restricted human access and taboos associated with any resource extraction. More so, the site is valued as a holy ground for conducting prayers and cultural festivities such as Uhola and Golmo.