Medicinal use of fauna by a traditional community in the Brazilian Amazonia
1 Universidade Federal do Pará, Núcleo de Ciências Agrárias e Desenvolvimento Rural (NCADR), Programas de Pós-Graduação em Agriculturas Amazônicas (NCADR) e Antropologia (IFCH), Cidade Universitária José da Silveira Netto, Rua Augusto Corrêa, N° 1, Guamá, Belém, 66075-110, Pará, Brazil
2 Centro de Biologia Ambiental (CBA), Departamento de Biologia Animal, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa,, Universidade de Lisboa, Edifício C2, Campo Grande, Lisboa, 1749-016, Portugal
3 Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM), Departamento de Biologia Animal, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, C2-P3 Campo Grande, Lisboa, 1794-016, Portugal
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2012, 8:37 doi:10.1186/1746-4269-8-37Published: 27 September 2012
Zootherapy inventories are important as they contribute to the world documentation of the prevalence, importance and diversity of the medicinal use of animals in traditional human communities. The present study aims to contribute with a more valuable example of the zootherapy practices of a traditional community in the Brazilian Amazonia – the “Riozinho do Anfrísio” Extractive Reserve, in Northern Brazil.
We used the methods of participant observation and semi-structured interviews, applied to 25 informants. We employed the combined properties of two indices to measure the medicinal importance of each cited species to the studied community, as well as their versatility in the treatment of diseases: the well known Use Value (UV) and the Medicinal Applications Value (MAV) that we developed.
We recorded 31 species of medicinal animals from six taxonomic categories, seven of which are new to science. The species are used for the treatment of 28 diseases and one species is used as an amulet against snakebites. The five species with the highest UV indices are the most popular and valued by the studied community. Their contrasting MAV indices indicate that they have different therapeutic properties: specific (used for the treatment of few diseases; low versatility) and all-purpose (several diseases; high versatility). Similarly, the most cited diseases were also those that could be treated with a larger number of animal species. Ten species are listed in the CITES appendices and 21 are present in the IUCN Red List. The knowledge about the medicinal use of the local fauna is distributed evenly among the different age groups of the informants.
This study shows that the local fauna represents an important medicinal resource for the inhabitants of the protected area. The combined use of the UV and MAV indices allowed identifying the species with the highest therapeutic potential. This type of information about a species may be of interest to pharmacological research, and is crucial to its conservation, since it helps signaling the species that may undergo higher hunting pressures. Data on zootherapy can also be of interesting to ecologists by contributing to indicators of local biodiversity richness.