Traditional Use of Wild and Domestic Fauna among Different Ethnic Groups in the Western Himalayas—A Cross Cultural Analysis

Musheerul Hassan, Shiekh Marifatul Haq, Riyaz Ahmad, Muhammad Majeed, Hakim Ali Sahito, Madeeha Shirani, Iqra Mubeen, Muhammad Abdul Aziz, Andrea Pieroni, Rainer W. Bussmann, Abed Alataway, Ahmed Z. Dewidar, Mohamed Al-Yafrsi, Hosam O. Elansary, Kowiyou Yessoufou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Animal-derived products have an important role in treating many health conditions and have widely been used across cultures. In South Asia, ethnozoological research has been conducted only by a small number of researchers. Therefore, this area of research needs further exploration in order to preserve the eroding ethnozoological knowledge of medicinal animals severely affected by ongoing social change. This study was conducted in the region of Jammu and Kashmir from February 2019 to August 2021. The study was carried out among eight different ethnic groups living in the region. A total of 374 informants were selected and data were collected through semi-structured interviews and verified through group discussions. Data was analyzed using different statistical tools, including R 4.0.0. The cross-cultural data were compared through Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Genomics software and later subjected to further analysis, applying Pearson correlation and ordination techniques (Principal Component Analysis). We recorded a total of 79 animal species being used by the eight studied ethnic groups in the region. Wild animal species were mainly used for therapeutic purposes. Chest infections, sexual problems, and paralysis were frequently treated diseases. Flesh was the most commonly part used. The cross-cultural comparison showed a remarkable heterogeneity in the use of the animals among the different groups, which could be an effect to the historical sociocultural stratifications, as well as different religious affiliation of certain groups preventing them to forage or hunt certain animals. Some groups however showed prominent overlap of uses of some recorded species. For instance, Lerwalerwa and Bubalus bubalis were commonly used by both Gujjar and Pahari, which could be referred to the fact that they have gone through significant socio-cultural contact, and they are exogamous to each other. The Pearson correlation coefficient supported the strength and direction of an association between ethnic groups and regions. The study makes an important contribution to the field of ethnozoology in the Himalayas by providing insights to understand the historical human and nature relationships and supplying a baseline for developing future conservation efforts in the region to protect the wild fauna.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2276
JournalAnimals
Volume12
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

Keywords

  • cross-culture
  • ethnic groups
  • ethnozoology
  • western Himalayas
  • wild fauna

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary

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