Primates in traditional folk medicine: a world overview



  • 1Almost 50% of primate species are in danger of becoming extinct, according to the criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. This is partly because of their consumption by humans. The reasons for hunting vary by region. One pretext is the medicinal or magical value of products derived from these animals.
  • 2In this paper, we provide an overview of the global use of primates in traditional folk medicines as well as identifying the species used as remedies associated with folk beliefs. Some important questions relating to the conservation of primates are addressed.
  • 3Our results revealed that at least 101 species of primates, which belong to 38 genera and 10 families, were used in traditional folk practices and in magic–religious rituals throughout the world.
  • 4Of the 101 species of primates recorded in our review, 12 species were classified as Critically Endangered, 23 as Endangered, 22 as Vulnerable, seven as Near Threatened, 36 as Least Concern and one as Data Deficient in the IUCN Red List. All species were also included in The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Appendices I or II, although the reasons for their inclusion were not necessarily related to their medicinal use.
  • 5The 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.