Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 839–870 | Cite as

The trade of medicinal animals in Brazil: current status and perspectives

  • Felipe S. FerreiraEmail author
  • Hugo Fernandes-Ferreira
  • Nivaldo A. Léo Neto
  • Samuel V. Brito
  • Rômulo R. N. Alves
Review Paper


In cities, the trade of medicinal products derived from animals, especially as raw materials, is concentrated in local and traditional markets. The lack of studies on commercialised medicinal faunas restricts an evaluation of the impact of this activity on the exploited species. Within this context, this work reviewed the literature on the trade of medicinal animals in local markets, focusing on urban zootherapy in Brazil and the social factors involved in these practices. Our results reveal that at least 131 species are sold for medicinal purposes in markets and open fairs in Brazil, but results obtained from statistical estimators suggest that this trade actually encompasses a greater richness of species. The medicinal animals sold in Brazil are used to treat 126 illnesses and/or symptoms. Despite the trade of wild animals, including species that are present on the list of endangered species, being forbidden in Brazil, it has been demonstrated that this activity remains common in some Brazilian cities, occurring illicitly and without due monitoring by competent environmental agencies. The results illustrate the need for further research, which should encompass a larger number of cities, especially in regions where information on this subject is currently lacking.


Animal conservation Ethnozoology Traditional medicine Wildlife trade Zootherapy 



The authors would like to thank the CAPES (Cordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior) for the scholarships to Felipe S. Ferreira, Samuel V. Brito and Hugo Fernandes-Ferreira and CNPq (ConselhoNacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) for the scholarships to Nivaldo A. Léo-Neto and for providing a research fellowship to the Rômulo R. N. Alves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Felipe S. Ferreira
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hugo Fernandes-Ferreira
    • 1
  • Nivaldo A. Léo Neto
    • 1
  • Samuel V. Brito
    • 1
  • Rômulo R. N. Alves
    • 2
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Biológicas (Zoologia), Departamento de Sistemática e Ecologia, Centro de Ciências Exatas e da NaturezaUniversidade Federal da Paraíba (UFPB)João PessoaBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Estadual da ParaíbaCampina GrandeBrazil

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