Ethnobiological Study in Kala Chitta Hills, Pakistan

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An ethnobiological study in Kala Chitta hills of Pothwar region, Pakistan: multinomial logit specification

Arshad M, Ahmad M, Ahmed E, Saboor A, Abbas A, Sadiq S
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014 Jan 27;10:13
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3914733

Punjab Province, Pakistan
Punjab Province, Pakistan [source: Saqib Qayyum, Wikimedia Commons]
Muhammad Arshad of PMAS-Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi, with colleagues at that institution and Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, conducted an ethnobiological study with residents of Kala Chitta hills of Pothwar (Potohar Plateau/ (Potohar/Potowar/Pothohar) region in Pakistan’s Punjab Province, cataloging and analyzing the ethnobotanical and ethnozoological uses of plants and animals among the indigenous communities.

A number of tribes and clans live in the region, including Pathan, Awan, Malik, Gujjar/Gurjar, Maliar, Syed/Sayyid, Sheikh and Mughal.

From the Background:

“Due to a combination of hills, plains and dynamic climate, [the Kala Chitta hills are] rich in floral and faunal diversity. Therefore, this is considered a hotspot for biodiversity and ethnobiology. The people of the area cannot enjoy the fruits of modern facilities of civilizations due to lack of infrastructure and communication. The specific and distinguished socio-economic conditions of the region keep them closer to the natural resources. The area is rich in rural culture and folk traditions. People‚Äôs livelihoods are highly dependent on indigenous plants and animals. The importance of ethnobiology is reflected in their lifestyle including dressings, weddings, death ceremonies, childbirths, festivals, cultural functions and socio-religious beliefs. This area was not considered for the study of ethnobiological potential in the past for being far away from the main city and somehow prohibited by the Armed Forces. The present study is designed to document the traditional ethnobiological knowledge and association between ethnobotanical and ethnozoological facts. The inhabitants of Kala Chitta hills live in the area of great biological diversity that provides potent phytozootherapeutic remedies. People of this region have limited access to modern health facilities and public services. However, due to lack of money and the remoteness of the hilly range, plants and animals continue to play an important role in their daily life. The health services are based on use of medicinal plants and animals which is inexpensive and remedies are easily available. The historically close association between nature and locals of this Hilly range, almost all of the inhabitants have some rich knowledge about the use of medicinal plants and animals for treating a range of ailments.”

Acacia nilotica/Vachellia nilotica
Acacia nilotica/Vachellia nilotica [source: Mimosa nilotica Tafel 595 Afbeeldingen der artseny-gewassen met derzelver Nederduitsche en Latynsche beschryvingen (1800), Wikimedia Commons]
The team documented traditional uses of 91 plant species and 65 animal species, with medicinal uses predominant. Many plant species have multiple medicinal uses, including Acacia nilotica/Vachellia nilotica (lumbago, kidney pains, diabetes, sexual disorders, phlegm, dysentery, and as a tooth powder and astringent); Mentha longifolia (dysentery, colic pain, asthma, jaundice, stomach diseases) and Triticum aestivum (inflammations, diabetes, sexual disorders, piles, lumbago, constipation, and as a caloric).

The authors propose consideration of policy measures to sustain this indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants, which they note has been put in danger through “the loss of traditional community life, widespread hunting of biodiversity and extensive use of fuel wood amidst deforestation”:

“The collected ethnobiological data may provide basis to formulate a policy for biodiversity conservation and community development. Therefore, it is articulated that such ethnobiological studies can make significant contributions to indigenous knowledge as well as to the sources of raw materials for the development of commercial pharmaceuticals and neutraceuticals. The native biota of Kala Chitta hills is threatened by factors such as extensive fuel wood consumption, hunting of wild animals, grazing, expansion of new agricultural lands, buildings, roads and unsustainable picking of plants to generate income. Punitive measures should be taken to ensure the inclusion of relevant flora and fauna within conservation designations.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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