Understanding environmental philosophies and wisdom of tribal communities provides insights into sustainable ways of living and conservation. Many tribal communities rely on oral traditions for storage and communication of ecological, cultural, and religious wisdom. An evaluation of the Gāli Sāré, or the camel praise poetry, practiced in the form of sung poetry by the Afar nomads of the Horn of Africa, revealed that as well as being praise of the camel, the Gāli Sāré poems are oral eco-poetry and reflect biophilia. Issues such as biodiversity, environmental crises, livelihoods, clan politics, and landscapes are addressed in the poems, while conveying themes of abundance, drought, changing landscape, and livestock raids. In these oral poems, the animate and inanimate environment, including rangeland plants, mountains, rivers, lakes, animals, the weather, and spirits, are used in metaphoric, symbolic, and realistic expressions. Embedded in these poems are the ecological and social philosophy and wisdom of Afar nomads as well as their concerns about contemporary environmental problems. Oral traditions can be used to understand ecological wisdom and perceptions of tribal communities and provide insights into and lessons in sustainable living.
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Vol. 36 • No. 2