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Commercialization and Use of Snakes in North and Northeastern Brazil: Implications for Conservation and Management

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Abstract

Snakes are sold in many markets and religious article stores in Brazil. Besides their use as food, snakes are exploited in a variety of ways, such as pets, or for use in traditional medicine and magic/religious rituals (especially in Afro-Brazilian religions). Despite widespread commercialization, there is a general lack of information about this snake trade, which makes it difficult to evaluate its magnitude and its impact on reptile populations. This work documents the commercialization and use of snakes in five cities in Northeastern (São Luís, Teresina, João Pessoa and Campina Grande) and Northern (Belém) Brazil, through interviews with 119 merchants of biological products in outdoor markets and religious articles stores. The data was gathered through the use of semi-structured questionnaires, complemented by semi-directed interviews. The products derived from 11 snake species were being commercialized for medicinal or magical/religious purposes. Boa constrictor, Crotalus durissus and Eunectes murinus were the species most commonly sold. The economic importance of snakes as sources of medicines and religious products demonstrates the need for the development of sustainable use programs for these species.

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Correspondence to Rômulo Romeu da Nóbrega Alves.

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Alves, R.R.d.N., Filho, G.A.P. Commercialization and Use of Snakes in North and Northeastern Brazil: Implications for Conservation and Management. Biodivers Conserv 16, 969–985 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-006-9036-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-006-9036-7

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