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Reptiles used for medicinal and magic religious purposes in Brazil

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image of Applied Herpetology

This is an overview of the use of reptiles for medicinal and magic religious purposes in Brazil and discusses their implications for conservation. All available references or reports on the reptiles species being used for medicinal or magic/religious purposes were examined. A total of 44 species of reptiles (35 genera and 17 families) are used. These 42 species are used for medicinal purposes, two for magical religious purposes and 11 for both. The largest numbers of species used were snakes (15 species), turtles and tortoises (14), lizards (10), and crocodilians (5). Therapeutic products from 42 reptile species are used to treat 100 different illnesses and at least 13 reptile species were recorded as having magic religious uses. They are commonly sold in Brazilian cities in outdoor markets and stores that sell religious articles. Of the reptiles recorded, 52.3% are endangered species, demonstrating the importance of understanding such uses in the context of reptile conservation as well as of the cultural, social, and traditional role of these reptiles for establishing management plans directed towards sustainable use.

Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Biologia, Universidade Estadual da Paraíba, Av. das Baraúnas, 351/Campus Universitário, Bodocongó, 58109-753, Campina Grande-PB, Brasil; 2: Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Biológicas (Zoologia), Laboratório e Coleção de Herpetologia, Departamento de Sistemática e Ecologia, Universidade Federal da Paraíba, 58051-900, João Pessoa, PB, Brasil; 3: Programa de Pós-Graduação em Bioprospecção Molecular, Universidade Regional do Cariri, Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Rua Cel. Antônio Luiz 1161, CEP 63100-000, Crato — CE, Brazil


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