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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 32  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 99-103

Ethnozoology of the Karbis of Assam, India: Use of ichthyofauna in traditional health-care practices

Department of Life Science and Bioinformatics, Assam University - Diphu Campus, Diphu, Karbi Anglong, Assam 782460, India

Correspondence Address:
Valentina Teronpi
Department of Life Science and Bioinformatics, Assam University, Diphu Campus, P.O. Diphu, Karbi Anglong, Assam - 782 462
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0257-7941.118547

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Background: Traditional or folk medicine is still prevalent among the Karbis as means of primary health-care. Traditional medicine is not only a source of healing, but the practice is also an important part of their religion and culture. Aim: The aim of the present study is to discuss the use of ichthyofauna in traditional health-care practices among the Karbis and other ethnic tribes of Karbi Anglong district, Assam. Setting and Design: Field study was undertaken from March 2011 to June 2012. A total of 75 informants were selected from 27 villages and the selection was based on their recognition as having sound knowledge relating to health-care practices. Materials and Methods: Information was collected following both unstructured and structured interview methods, group discussions and personal observation. Fish used in health-care practices were collected with the help of local guides and identified using available literatures. Results: The present study has recorded use of 14 species belonging 7 families in the treatment of 25 disease conditions. Traditional health-care practices of the Karbis include both local and oral applications and rituals to cure diseases. Use of fish to cure mental depression like symptoms locally referred as nihu kachingtung is prevalent until today. Studies among the Dimasa and Thadou tribes also revealed the use of fish in traditional medicine as therapies against different ailments, but do not use fish in rituals. Conclusion: Study on fish-based zootherapy could be a viable option for discovery of new compounds with therapeutic potentials. However, the attitude of the present generation towards traditional medicine as being unscientific and acculturation are the main causes of decline of such practice in the Karbis. Destructive fishing practices by poisoning water bodies with synthetic chemicals pose serious threats to aquatic fauna in the hill streams.

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