Traditional medicinal uses of small mammal products: a case study of the African savannah hares, crested porcupines and rock hyraxes in Serengeti District, Tanzania
Traditional medicines, both plant and animal products, have been used to cure various diseases since time immemorial especially in rural areas worldwide. Many studies have focused on traditional plant products, but little research has been conducted on animal traditional medicines. This study investigated the use of small mammal products for medicinal purposes in three villages bordering Serengeti National Park in Serengeti District, Tanzania. A total of 71 respondents were interviewed in Kisangura, Nyamburi and Machochwe villages in November 2010, using questionnaires. Villagers hunted small mammals mainly by dogs for cultural and ornamental reasons. Products of African savannah hare (Lepus microtis), crested porcupine (Hystrix cristata) and rock hyrax (Procaviacapensis), were the most commonly used materials for believably curing nearly 11 different ailments including stomach pain, diarrhoea, convulsions and bleeding nose. Use of traditional medicines from these animals was significantly higher than other uses combined (p < 0.001), indicating that these small mammal products are important alternative medicinal products. However, although the small mammals utilised for medicinal purposes in the study area are categorised as Least Concerned (LC) presence and utilization of rare or threatened species in the same area cannot be ruled out. Therefore sustainable utilization of small mammals needs to be advocated.
Keywords: Traditional medicine, small mammal, Serengeti Ecosystem, Tanzania
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