University of Oulu

Jugli, S., Chakravorty, J. & Meyer-Rochow, V.B. Zootherapeutic uses of animals and their parts: an important element of the traditional knowledge of the Tangsa and Wancho of eastern Arunachal Pradesh, North-East India. Environ Dev Sustain 22, 4699–4734 (2020).

Zootherapeutic uses of animals and their parts : an important element of the traditional knowledge of the Tangsa and Wancho of eastern Arunachal Pradesh, North-East India

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Author: Jugli, Salomi1; Chakravorty, Jharna1; Meyer-Rochow, Victor Benno2,3
Organizations: 1Biochemical Nutrition Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Rajiv Gandhi University, Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, 791112, India
2Andong National University, 1375, Gyeongdong-ro, Andong, 36729, Republic of Korea
3Department of Ecology and Genetics, Oulu University, 90140, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-05-18


Using animals and their products to treat patients suffering from a range of health conditions has a long history and is still common in many parts of the world. We investigated such zootherapeutic uses among two tribes who inhabit different areas of North-East India: the Tangsa and the Wancho. Overexploitation of the animals they use, however, could endanger some species’ survival and create imbalances in the ecosystem that ultimately could affect humans and animals of the region. In order to find solutions how humans and animals can continue to coexist harmoniously, it is essential to know which species and their products are sought after by the local healers. We found that the Tangsa make greater use of animals than Wancho and use predominantly a variety of mammals (47%) followed by birds (16%) of the 55 species of animals considered therapeutic by them. The Wancho informed us of using 20 species, of which birds and their products account for 37%, while mammals and insects feature in 26% and 21%, respectively. In both tribes, the remainder are distributed across different animal taxa. To treat ailments and diseases like joint, bone and muscle pains, Tangsa prefer to use the body fats of tiger, civet, hornbill, eagle and python. Wancho do not use any animal fats very often and prefer animal parts and marrow to be given to a sick person in cooked or roasted form. The bile of bears is used by both Tangsa and Wancho in that it is supposed to ameliorate pain-causing conditions such as stomach, head and toothaches and to reduce labour pains. The use of leeches to remove blood clots and the consumption of earthworms to ward off malaria has been recorded only from the Wancho, while Tangsa treat malaria sufferers with tortoise carapace extracts. The use of the flesh of roasted bat wings fed to children older than 4 years of age to stop bed-wetting seems unique to the Tangsa. Being aware of such folk medicinal traditions is important not just with regard to safeguarding the animal resource, but also in connection with the introduction of possible alternative treatment methods not involving animal zootherapies.

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Series: Environment, development and sustainability
ISSN: 1387-585X
ISSN-E: 1573-2975
ISSN-L: 1387-585X
Volume: 22
Pages: 4699 - 4734
DOI: 10.1007/s10668-019-00404-6
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This research was financially supported through grants of the Department of Biotechnology of the Government of India (DBT NER/Agr/24/2013) to Dr J. Chakravorty, and permission to use the information on the traditional uses of zootherapeutic animals was obtained from the tribal informants.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.