Ethnoveterinary Practices in the Maghreb



The Maghreb, the north-western tip of Africa, is a geographically, floristically, and culturally rich area with a long history of animal husbandry. Local ethnoveterinary practices reflect Maghrebi beliefs about health and illness, as well as ecological knowledge of the farmers, nomads and other pastoralists. Ethnoveterinary medicine in the Maghreb makes use of ritual, therapeutic materials, especially plants, and other practices such as surgery and cauterisation. Despite the limited sources, through an intensive literature review we have documented 489 different ethnoveterinary medicinal uses for 183 plant species and nine fungal, animal and mineral materials. Preventive practices, including an in-depth knowledge of the environment for grazing management, use of dietary complements, or ritual and cultural prescriptions at specific times, are also important. As our literature review indicates, information on ethnoveterinary practices in the Maghreb is scarce, dispersed in studies with varying aims and ultimately, incomplete. New studies following international ethnopharmacology and ethnobiology research standards should focus on undocumented areas and ethnic groups, an effort most needed at a time when traditional knowledge is rapidly changing, with a tendency of being abandoned. Understanding the adaptation of traditional knowledge and practice to modern livelihoods and resources will be key for achieving sustainable development targets.


Medicinal plants Ecological knowledge North Africa Morocco Healing Tradition 



We would like to thank the Global Diversity Foundation and the Moroccan Biodiversity and Livelihoods Association for their support during the authors’ research in the High Atlas mountains, which resulted in an understanding of the local ethnoveterinary practices. Many thanks to Hamid Ait Baskad and Josep Lluís Mateo Dieste for sharing their experiences regarding ethnoveterinary practice in Morocco, and Vincent Manzanilla for designing Fig. 13.1a.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural History MuseumUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Global Diversity FoundationCanterburyUK
  3. 3.Moroccan Biodiversity and Livelihoods AssociationCasablancaMorocco
  4. 4.EtnoBioFic Research TeamUniversity of Barcelona and Botanical Garden of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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