Sacred and totemic plants among thirty two ethnic groups in Burkina Faso: implications for biodiversity conservation

  • S Savadogo
  • T.K. Sop
  • A Thiombiano
Keywords: Biodiversity, ethnic groups, sacred plants, totemic plants, Burkina Faso


In Burkina Faso, traditions, beliefs and socio-religious considerations play a key role in plant diversity conservations. This study aims to evaluate the diversity of sacred species and totemic species according to the different ethnic groups of Burkina Faso and to determine the influence of these taboos on the conservation of biodiversity. A sample of 2503 people from 32 ethnic groups were investigated in 330 villages based on the liveliness of cultural practices. Floral and dendrometric surveys were carried out in 20 x 50 m plots in villages where the species are considered sacred and / or totemic and in villages where the inhabitants have no taboo for the species. As results, some 29 plants were listed as totemic and 26 as sacred by the informants. Stereospermum kunthianum is the most quoted species by the respondents as being banned from use (97.86 % citation). The most cited sacred species are Khaya senegalensis, Adansonia digitata, Ceiba pentandra, Tamarindus indica, Afzelia africana, Balanites aegyptiaca, Diospyros mespiliformis, Ficus thonningii. Considering the diversity of sacred or totemic plants, similar ethnic groups are : Mossi-Gourmantché (Cs = 0.72), Lobi- Gan (Cs = 0.69), Birifo-Gan (Cs = 0.65), Dagara- Pougouli (Cs = 0.63), Mossi-Fulsé (Cs = 0.61), Dagara-Birifor (Cs = 0.61), Lobi-Dagara (Cs = 0.78), Lobi-Birifor (Cs = 0.75), Gourmantché-Bisa (Cs = 0.66). It is therefore necessary to encourage traditional values when they are effective in the conservation of biological diversity in Burkina Faso.

Keywords: Biodiversity, ethnic groups, sacred plants, totemic plants, Burkina Faso


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1659-5009