Traditional veterinary solutions for herders living in limited and changing conditions: A case study of “crianceros” of Central Northern Patagonia, Argentina (ScienceDirect Publication: Journal of Arid Environments)

Publication date: Available online 12 June 2017
Source:Journal of Arid Environments
Author(s): Lucía Castillo, Ana Ladio
In the arid Patagonia, sheep and goat breeding provides the main source of income for many traditional families of Mapuche-Tehuelche ancestry (locally named as “crianceros”). Using an ethnobotanical quali-quantitative approach, traditional veterinarian knowledge (TVK) was studied in 20 rural establishments on the Central Chubut plateau (Argentina). During the study 17 diseases were registered, which are treated with 28 remedies involving 14 native plants and other resources of mineral origin. Healing practices include symbolic and religious elements, inherited as part of the biocultural memory of the region's original inhabitants and from European Hippocratic medicine. Environmental processes play a substantial role as aetiological agents, given that the environment is considered by inhabitants in an integral way, composed of both natural and supernatural elements. Plant species are versatile in their healing uses, and treatment is performed by both women and men in a similar manner. This TVK forms part of the unique criancero identity which is characterized by a constant, multidimensional dialogue with the different elements of nature. This article promotes reflection on the complex processes involved in construction of the dynamic, specialized medical-veterinary system in arid communities, and the importance of local veterinary solutions for herders living in limited and changing conditions.