Animals and their products utilized as medicines by the inhabitants surrounding the Ranthambhore National Park, India
© Mahawar and Jaroli; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2006
Received: 28 July 2006
Accepted: 03 November 2006
Published: 03 November 2006
The present ethnozoological study describes the traditional knowledge related to the use of different animals and animal-derived products as medicines by the inhabitants of villages surrounding the Ranthambhore National Park of India (Bawaria, Mogya, Meena), which is well known for its very rich biodiversity. The field survey was conducted from May to July 2005 by performing interviews through structured questionnaires with 24 informants (16 men and 8 women), who provided information regarding therapeutic uses of animals. A total of 15 animals and animal products were recorded and they are used for different ethnomedical purposes, including tuberculosis, asthma, paralysis, jaundice, earache, constipation, weakness, snake poisoning. The zootherapeutic knowledge was mostly based on domestic animals, but some protected species like the collared dove (Streptopelia sp.), hard shelled turtle (Kachuga tentoria), sambhar (Cervus unicolor) were also mentioned as important medicinal resources. We would suggest that this kind of neglected traditional knowledge should be included into the strategies of conservation and management of faunistic resources in the investigated area.
The healing of human ailments by using therapeutics based on medicines obtained from animals or ultimately derived from them is known as zootherapy . As Marques states, "all human culture which presents a structured medical system will utilize animals as medicines" . The use of animals for medicinal purposes is part of a body of traditional knowledge which is increasingly becoming more relevant to discussions on conservation biology, public health policies, sustainable management of natural resources, biological prospection, and patents . Research interest and activities in the areas of ethnobiology and ethnomedicine have increased tremendously in the last decade. Since the inception of the disciplines, scientific research in ethnobiology and ethnomedicine has made important contributions to understanding traditional subsistence and medical knowledge and practice . But in India the traditional knowledge system is fast eroding due to urbanization. So there is an urgent need to inventorise and record all ethnobiological information among the different ethnic communities before the traditional cultures are completely lost . A lot of work has been done in the Ranthambhore National Park on the medicinal plants & plant products and documented too, but there is a definite scarcity of such knowledge when it comes to animal products. Thus there is an urgent need to make such study in the field of zootherapy and document it, so that it can be put to the welfare of human kind. Therefore keeping this aspect in view, we have undertaken this study.
Data were obtained through field survey conducted from May to July 2005 by performing interview through structured questionnaire with 24 selected people (Informants), to collect information about traditional knowledge regarding use of animals and their products. These informants were local herbalists, healers, farmers, and midwives. The Informants are between 40–74 age groups. The selection of Informants was based on their recognition as experts and knowledgeable members concerning folk medicine. We ask the informants whether they use animals in the healing practices. Then we ask that which animal remedies have been prescribes for which ailment. We also ask the modes of preparation of remedies and how the medicines are administered, since this kind of information indicates how a given medicine can be therapeutically efficient in terms of the right ingredients, the proper dose, and the right length of preparation. According to them, their knowledge of folk medicine was acquired mainly through parental heritage, or because they have experience about medicinal value of animals to heal their kin or themselves. The interviews were recorded and documented. All the animal species were identified by using relevant and standard literature.
Result and discussion
List of animals and their parts use for therapeutic purpose in the studied area.
No. of Informants reporting the use
Method of preparation and medicinal use
Related earlier reported use in India [Ref.]
1. Indian ass
Dung kept in water and after one day filtered water is given to cure jaundice.
Weakness due to fever is cure by drinking urine.
Given to cure cancer.
Dung + Milk
Muscle pain can relieve by smear of dung and milk mixture.
The Dried dung is burnt and ash is applied to treat utricaria in Kachchh .
250 gm Ghee + 100 gm Black pepper mixture given orally to neutralize snake poison.
Used as eardrop for curing earache.
Also reported by Naga tribe of Nagaland .
Urine of goat administered orally to cure tuberculosis.
Reported by Ao  and Naga  tribe for asthma, T.B., paralysis, and by Tamilnadu tribe for insect bite .
Mouth ulcer is treated by direct spray of milk from breast of goat to tongue of a patient.
Human urine is used as antiseptic for wound healing.
Also reported by Naga tribe of Nagaland .
6. Indian Peafowl
Peacock's leg is rubbed with water and this essenced water is used in ear infections
Also reported by Naga tribe of Nagaland , Bhil of Rajasthan . Legs boil with oil in kachchh  and Maharastra  for similar purpose.
Fat of pig is use as massage cream in muscular pain.
Also reported by Ao tribe of Nagaland , but fat of pig used for Hemorrhoids in Tamilnadu .
Antler is rubbed with water this paste is applied in eye ailments.
Also reported in Kachchh of Gujrat .
Used as massage cream in muscular pain.
10. House sparrow
Fecal matter is applied in the anus of baby to treat constipation.
Ash of excreta is used for treatment of asthma in children is reported in Kchchh .
The fresh blood is massaged externally to treat paralysis.
Same use reported in Kachchh  and Tamilnadu .
12. Collared dove
To attain early puberty girls eat flesh of collared dove.
13. Hardshelled Turtle.
Ash of carapace is used in lung diseases as cough, asthma, T. B. etc.
Ash of Lissemys punctatus' Carapace is used for healing of internal injuries, pruritis and cough (Kachchh) .
14. Honey bee
Used as eye drops to cure eye disease.
Honey is used for cough and could. (Tamilnadu tribes)  .
Shell of sepia is rubbed with clarified butter (ghee) and red lead (sindoor) to apply on acne to cure.
Since ancient times animals, their parts, and their products have constituted part of the inventory of medicinal substances used in various cultures. This phenomenon is marked by both a broad geographical distribution and very deep historical origins . In Pakistan, 31 substances were listed (animal parts and products), constituting 9% of all the medicinal substances in the inventory of traditional medicines . Costa-Neto describes the use of 180 animal species as medicinal resources in the state of Bahia, Northeastern Brazil . A survey of traditional materia medica in use in the markets of Israel recorded 20 substances of animal origin . In the states of Maranhão and Paraíba (Northeast Brazil) a survey carried out and recorded 100 animal species was used as medicine . Examination and research show that these substances are similar to those used as remedies throughout human history, irrespective of geographical borders .
Ethnomedicinal uses of animals reported from different parts of India.
Tribes/Ethnic Groups/Region/Indigenous people
Number of animals Reported
Dutta A (1996)
Sporadic study in India
Gosh A K, Maiti P K (1996)
Chakhesang of Nagaland
Kakati and Doulo (2000)
Bhil of Rajasthan
Sharma S K (2002)
Bhil, Gamit, Kokna etc of Maharastra
Patil S H (2003)
Oudhia P (2003)
Oudhia P (2003)
Oudhia P (2003)
Gupta Leena et al (2003)
Irular, Kurimba of Tamilnadu
Solvan A et al (2004)
Kanikar, Paliyar of Taminadu
Ranjit Singh ASA (2004)
Naga tribe of Nagaland
Jamir N S et al (2005)
Dilip Kalita (2005)
Ao tribe of Nagaland
Kakati L N et al (2006)
Mogya, Meena, Bawaria of Rajasthan
Mahawar, Jaroli (Present study)
The use of urine drop of Canis familiaris against earache has been also reported amongst the Naga tribe of Nagaland . The urine of Capra indicus has been also reported by Ao and Naga tribes for asthma, T.B., paralysis, [11, 12] but the milk of this animal is use for mouth ulcer has never been reported earlier. Pavo cristatus' legs uses for ear infection are also similar in Naga tribe of Nagaland and Bhil of Rajasthan, [11, 19] but Legs are boil with oil in kachchh and Maharastra for similar purpose [15, 17]. Ao tribe of Nagaland  also reports the fat of Sus scrofa in muscular pain, but in Tamilnadu this is used for Hemorrhoids . The use of antler of cervus unicolor for eye ailments and the fresh blood of columba livia for paralysis has been also reported in the Kachchh region of Gujarat . The use of fecal matter of Passer domesticus to treat baby constipation, but ash of excreta is used for treatment of asthma in children is reported in Kachchh. The flesh of Streptopelia sp. to attain early puberty and dung of Equs hemionus to cure jaundice has never been reported earlier in India. Ash of Kachuga tentoria' carapace is used in lung diseases as cough, asthma, T. B. etc. but Lissemys punctatus' Carapace is used for healing of internal injuries, prurities and cough in Kachchh region .
- Eraldo M, Costa-Neto : Animal based medicines biological prospection and the sustainable use of zootherapeutic resources. An Acad Bras Cienc. 2005, 77 (1): 33-43. [http://www.scielo.br/pdf/aabc/v77n1/a04v77n1.pdf]Google Scholar
- Marques JGW: A Fauna medicinal dos indios Kuna de Sen Blas (Panama) e a hipotese da universalidade zooterapica. Paper presented at the 46th Annual Meeting of the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science. 1994, Vitória (Brazil): Espírito Santo Federal UniversityGoogle Scholar
- Alves RR, Rosa IL: Why study the use of animal products in traditional medicines?. J Ethnobiol Ethnomedicine. 2005, 1: 5-10.1186/1746-4269-1-5.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Andrea Pieroni, Lisa Leimar Price, Ina Vandebroek: Welcome to Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 2005, 1: 1-10.1186/1746-4269-1-1.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Trivedi PC: Ethnobotany: An overview. Ethnobotany. Edited by: Trivedi PC. 2002, Jaipur: Aavishkar publisher, 1-Google Scholar
- Champion HG, Seth SK: The Forest Types of India. 1968, New Delhi: The Manager of PublicationsGoogle Scholar
- Lev Efraim: Healing with animals in the Levant from the 10th to the 18th century. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 2006, 2: 11-10.1186/1746-4269-2-11.PubMed CentralPubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Ali SAM, Mahdihassan S: Bazaar medicines of Karachi: The drugs of animal origin. Bazaar Drugs and Folk Medicine in Pakistan. Edited by: Mahdihassan S. 1984, Karachi: Hamdard, 69-73.Google Scholar
- Costa-Neto EM: Implications and applications of folk zootherapy in the state of Bahia, Northeastern Brazil. Sustainable Development. 12 (3): 161-174. 10.1002/sd.234. 30 Jun 2004Google Scholar
- Unnikrisnhan PM: Animals in Ayurveda. Amruth. 1998, 1-15. Suppl 1Google Scholar
- Jamir NS, Lal P: Ethnozoological practices among Naga tribes. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. 2005, 4 (1): 100-104. , [http://www.niscair.res.in/ScienceCommunication/ResearchJournals/rejour/ijtk/ijtk2k5/ijtk_jan05.asp#a100]Google Scholar
- Kakati LN, Bendang Ao, Doulo V: Indigenous Knowledge of Zootherapeutic Use of Vertebrate Origin by the Ao Tribe of Nagaland. J Hum Ecol. 2006, 19 (3): 163-167. [http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:_vWnHvnWoVAJ:www.krepublishers.com/02-Journals/JHE/JHE-19-0-000-000-2006]Google Scholar
- Solovan A, Paulmurugan R, Wilsanand V, Ranjith Sing AJA: Traditional therapeutic uses of animals among tribal population of Tamil Nadu. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. 2004, 3 (2): 206-207. [http://www.niscair.res.in/ScienceCommunication/ResearchJournals/rejour/ijtk/ijtk2k4/ijtk_apr04.asp#p9]Google Scholar
- Kakati LN, Doulo V: Indigenous knowledge system of zootherapeutic use by Chakhesang tribe of Nagaland, India. J Hum Ecol. 2002, 13 (6): 419-423.Google Scholar
- Gupta Leena, Silori CS, Mistry Nisha, Dixit AM: Use of Animals and Animal products in traditional health care systems in District Kachchh, Gujarat. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. 2003, 2 (1): 346-356. [http://www.niscair.res.in/ScienceCommunication/ResearchJournals/rejour/ijtk/ijtk2k3/ijtk_oct03.asp#p4]Google Scholar
- Ranjit Singh AJA, Padmalatha C: Ethno-entomologicalpractices in Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. 2004, 3 (4): 442-446. [http://www.niscair.res.in/ScienceCommunication/ResearchJournals/rejour/ijtk/ijtk2k4/ijtk_oct04.asp#p12]Google Scholar
- Patil SH: Ethno-medico-zoological studies on Nandurbar district of Maharashtra. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. 2003, 2 (3): 297-299. [http://www.niscair.res.in/ScienceCommunication/ResearchJournals/rejour/ijtk/ijtk2k3/ijtk_jul03.asp#a12]Google Scholar
- Dilip Kalita, Manashi Dutta, Nazim Forid Islam: Few plants and animal based folk medicines from Dibrugarh District, Assam. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. 2005, 4 (1): 81-85.Google Scholar
- Sharma SK: A Study on Ethnozoology of Southern Rajasthan in Ethnobotany. Ethnobotany. Edited by: Trivedi PC. 2002, Jaipur: Aavishkar Publisher, 239-253.Google Scholar
- Dilip Kalita, Manashi Dutta, Nazim Forid Islam: Few plants and animal based folk medicines from Dibrugarh District, Assam. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. 2005, 4 (1): 81-85. [http://www.niscair.res.in/ScienceCommunication/ResearchJournals/rejour/ijtk/ijtk2k5/ijtk_jan05.asp#a81]Google Scholar
- Oudhia P: Traditional knowledge about medicinal insects, mites and spiders in Chhattisgarh, India. Insect Environment. 1995, [http://www.botanical.com/site/column_poudhia/06_medicinal_insects.html]Google Scholar
- Oudhia P: Interactions with the traditional healers and natives of Bhopalpatnam region, Chhattisgarh, India having rich traditional medicinal knowledge about common herbs insects and other animals. Research note at Botanical.com. 2003, [http://www.botanical.com/site/column_poudhia/121_bhopalpatnam.html]Google Scholar
- Oudhia P: Traditional Medicinal knowledge about excreta of different animals used to treat many common diseases in Chhattisgarh, India. Research note at Botanical.com. 2003, [http://www.botanical.com/site/column_poudhia/40_animal_excreta.html]Google Scholar
- Ghosh AK, Maiti PK: Investigation of Some Animal drugs (Mammals) used by the Tribal People in India. Ethnobiology in Human Welfare. Edited by: Jain SK. 1996, New Delhi: Deep Publications, 200-202.Google Scholar
- Lev Efraim, Amar Z: Ethnopharmacological survey of traditional drugs sold in Israel at the end of the 20th century. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2000, 72: 191-205. 10.1016/S0378-8741(00)00230-0.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Rômulo Alves, Ierecê Rosa: cnidarians to mammals: The use of animals as remedies in fishing communities in NE Brazil. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2006Google Scholar
- Simoons FJ: The purification rule of the five products of the cow in Hinduism. Ecology of Food and Nutrition. 1974, 3: 21-34.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.