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Research in Human Ecology

An ethnozoological survey of medicinal animals commercialized in the markets of Campina Grande, NE Brazil
Rômulo Romeu Nóbrega Alves1
Department of Biology Universidade Estadual da Paraíba Paraíba, Brazil

Maria das Graças Gerônimo Oliveira
Department of Biology Universidade Estadual da Paraíba Paraíba, Brazil

Raynner Rilke Duarte Barboza
Department ofSystematics and Ecology Universidade Estadual da Paraíba Paraíba, Brazil

Luiz Carlos Serramo Lopez
Department of Systematics and Ecology Universidade Federal da Paraíba Paraíba, Brazil

Maria das Graças Gerônimo Oliveira
Raynner Rilke Duarte Barboza Luiz Carlos Serramo Lopez

Numbers of animal species are commercialized by herbalists in markets throughout Brazil. Nevertheless, thereis a general lack of information about this type of trade in the country. This study aimed to obtain information on the trade of animals for medicinal purposes in the city of Campina Grande, Paraíba State. Data were obtained through semistructured questionnaires applied to traders of medicinal animals. The trade of medicinal animals includes 32 species, which are extracted for zootherapeuticproducts recommended for the treatment of 25 illnesses. Interviewees described the existence of a multi-state trade network of medicinal animals. Some of the traded animals are listed in the Brazilian list of threatened species, and this shows the urgent need to consider zootherapy in the context of biodiversity conservation in Brazil. Our results reveal the importance of zoothera-

py as atherapeutic alternative and demonstrate the need for further studies on the subject. Keywords: zootherapy, medicinal animals, traditional medicine

Accordingly to the World Health Organization, between 75 and 80% of the world’s population uses traditional folk medicines (Alves and Rosa 2005). Millions of people depend partially or completely on natural products harvested from natural areasfor medicinal purposes (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005) — indicating the importance of animals and medicinal plants as fundamental elements of traditional medical practices. Animals (and derived products) have been important el-

Human Ecology Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2010 © Society for Human Ecology


Alves, et al.

ements of the medicinal inventory used by humans throughout theworld since ancient times (Lev 2003; Alves et al. 2007; Alves 2009). In Brazil, many species of animals have been used for medicinal purposes since colonial times, with widely disseminated therapeutic alternatives available throughout the country (Alves et al. 2007; Alves and Rosa 2006; Alves and Rosa 2007a; Alves and Rosa 2007b). A recent work of this subject indicated that 290 animal species areused in traditional medicine in Brazil, although that number may be considerably larger considering that research in this area is still incomplete (Alves 2008). On the other hand, although 3722 articles have been published regarding the use of medicinal plants in Brazil (Calixto 2005) only 38 papers focusing on the use of animals for medicinal purposes have been published until now. The lack ofzootherapeutic studies in Brazil (and in the world in general) has contributed to an underestimation of the importance of zootherapeutic resources in this country. Much more research on the use of animal products in folk medicine has yet to be done to evaluate its impact on the conservation of global bioresources (Singh 2007). The use of medicinal animals is common in both rural and urban areas, andmedicinal animals are sold by herb venders in public markets throughout the country (Alves and Rosa 2007b; Figueiredo 1994; Costa-Neto 1999; Almeida and Albuquerque 2002; Silva et al. 2004; Alves and Rosa, 2008; Alves and Santana 2008, Alves et al 2008). Several animal species commercialized for medicinal use are officially listed as rare or threatened — often precisely because of pressure due...
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