Animals traded for traditional medicine at the faraday market in South Africa: species diversity and conservation implications

Martin J. Whiting*, Vivienne L. Williams, Toby J. Hibbitts

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    27 Citations (Scopus)


    In South Africa, animals and plants are commonly used as traditional medicine for both the healing of ailments and for symbolic purposes such as improving relationships and attaining good fortune. The aim of this study was twofold: to quantify the species richness and diversity of traded animal species and to assess the trade in species of conservation concern. We surveyed the Faraday traditional medicine market in Johannesburg and conducted 45 interviews with 32 traders during 23 visits. We identified 147 vertebrates representing about 9% of the total number of vertebrates in South Africa and about 63% of the total number of documented species (excluding domestic animals) traded in all South African traditional medicine markets. The vertebrates included 60 mammal species, 33 reptiles, 53 birds and one amphibian. Overall, species diversity in the Faraday market was moderately high and highest for mammals and birds, respectively. Evenness values indicated that relatively few species were dominant. Mammal body parts and bones were the most commonly sold items (n = 453, excluding porcupine quills and pangolin scales), followed by reptiles (n = 394, excluding osteoderms), birds (n = 193, excluding feathers and ostrich eggs), and amphibians (n = 6). Most (87.5%) species traded were of Least Concern using IUCN criteria, although 17 species were of conservation concern. However, a higher than expected proportion of traders (62.5%) were selling listed species, which is a matter for concern and should be monitored in the future.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAnimals in traditional folk medicine
    Subtitle of host publicationimplications for conservation
    EditorsRômulo Romeu Nóbrega Alves, Ierecê Lucena Rosa
    Place of PublicationBerlin; New York
    PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
    Number of pages53
    ISBN (Electronic)9783642290268
    ISBN (Print)3642290256, 9783642290251
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013

    Bibliographical note

    First published in Journal of Zoology 2010 284:84-96 - Pure Id: 6893517


    • Biodiversity
    • Bird
    • Ethnozoology
    • Mammal
    • Reptile
    • Threatened species


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