Primates in Traditional Folk Medicine: World Overview

  • Rômulo Romeu Nóbrega Alves
  • Wedson Medeiros Silva Souto
  • Raynner Rilke Duarte Barboza
  • Dandara Monalisa Mariz Bezerra


Almost 50% of primates are in danger of becoming extinct, according to the criteria of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, one of the reasons being their consumption by humans. The reasons for hunting vary by region. One of these pretexts is the medicinal or magical value of products derived from these animals. This chapter aims at providing an overview of the global use of primates in traditional folk medicines, as well as identifying the species used as remedies associated to folk beliefs. Some important questions relating to their conservation will be addressed. Our results revealed that at least 110 species of primates, belonging to 41 genera and 11 families, are used in traditional folk practices and in magic-religious rituals throughout the world. Of the 110 species of primates recorded in our review, 22 species are classified as Vulnerable, 23 as Endangered, 14 as critically endangered, 7 as Near Threatened, 43 as Least Concern, and 1 classified as data deficient in the most recent IUCN Red List. All species are included in the CITES Appendices I or II also, although the reasons for their inclusion are not necessarily related to medicinal use. The widespread utilization of primates in traditional medicine is evidence of the importance of understanding such uses in the context of primate conservation, as well as the need for considering socio-cultural factors when establishing management plans concerning the sustainable use of these mammals.


Traditional Medicine Primate Species Spider Monkey Medicinal Purpose Howler Monkey 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rômulo Romeu Nóbrega Alves
    • 1
  • Wedson Medeiros Silva Souto
    • 2
  • Raynner Rilke Duarte Barboza
    • 2
  • Dandara Monalisa Mariz Bezerra
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Estadual da ParaíbaCampina Grande-PBBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Federal da ParaíbaJoão Pessoa-PBBrazil

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