Faunal resources have played an extensive range of roles in human life from the initial days of recorded history. In addition to their importance, animals have been acknowledged in religion, art, music and literature and several other different cultural manifestations of mankind. Human beings are acquainted with use of animals for foodstuff, cloth, medicine, etc. since ancient times. Huge work has been carried out on ethnobotany and traditional medicine. Animal and their products are also holding medicinal properties that can be exploited for the benefit of human beings like plants. In Tanzania, many tribal communities are spread all over the country and these people are still totally depended on local customary medicinal system for their health care. In the world Tanzania is gifted with wide range of floral and faunal biodiversity. The use of traditional medicine from animals by Sukuma ethnic group of Busega district is the aim of the present study.
In order to collect the information on ethnozoological use about animal and their products predominant among this tribe in Busega district, a study was carried out from August 2012, to July 2013. Data were collected through semi-structured questionnaire and open interview with 180 (118 male and 62 females) selected people. The people from whom the data were collected comprise old age community members, traditional health practicener, fishermen and cultural officers. The name of animal and other ethnozoological information were documented. Pictures and discussion were also recorded with the help of camera and voice recorder.
A total of 42 various animal species were used in nearly 30 different medicinal purposes including STD, stoppage of bleeding, reproductive disorders, asthma, weakness, tuberculosis, cough, paralysis and wound and for other religious beliefs. It has been noticed that animal used by Sukuma tribe, comprise of seventeen mammals, seven birds, four reptiles, eight arthropods and two mollusks. Some of the protected species were also used as important medicinal resources. We also found that cough, tuberculosis, asthma and other respiratory diseases are the utmost cited disease, as such, a number of traditional medicines are available for the treatment.
The present work indicates that 42 animal species were being used to treat nearly 30 different ailments and results show that ethnozoological practices are an important alternative medicinal practice by the Sukuma tribe living in Bungesa district. The present study also indicates the very rich ethnozoological knowledge of these people in relation to traditional medicine. So there is a critical need to properly document to keep a record of the ethnozoological information. We hope that the information generated in this study will be useful for further research in the field of ethnozoology, ethnopharmacology and conservation approach.