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Barcoding and traditional health practitioner perspectives are informative to monitor and conserve frogs and reptiles traded for traditional medicine in urban South Africa
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  • Fortunate Phaka,
  • Edward Netherlands,
  • Maarten Van Steenberge,
  • Erik Verheyen,
  • Gontran Sonet,
  • Jean Hugé,
  • Louis Du Preez,
  • Maarten Vanhove
Fortunate Phaka
North-West University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Edward Netherlands
University of the Free State
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Maarten Van Steenberge
Hasselt University
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Erik Verheyen
Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences
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Gontran Sonet
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
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Jean Hugé
Hasselt University
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Louis Du Preez
North West University
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Maarten Vanhove
Hasselt University Faculty of Sciences
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Published literature suggests that indigenous cultural practices, specifically traditional medicine, are commonplace among urban communities contrary to the general conception that such practices are associated to rural societies. We reviewed literature for records of herptiles sold by traditional health practitioners in urban South Africa, then used visual confirmation surveys, DNA barcoding, and folk taxonomy to identify the herptile species that were on sale. Additionally, interviews with 11 SePedi and IsiZulu speaking traditional health practitioners were used to document details of the collection and pricing of herptile specimens along with the practitioners’ views of current conservation measures aimed at traditional medicine markets. The herptile specimens sold by traditional health practitioners included endangered and non-native species. The absorbance ratios of DNA extracted from the tissue of herptiles used in traditional medicine were found to be unreliable predictors of whether those extractions would be suitable for downstream applications. From an initial set of 111 tissue samples, 81 sequencing reactions were successful and 55 of the obtained sequences had species level matches to COI reference sequences on the NCBI GenBank and/or BOLD databases. Molecular identification revealed that traditional health practitioners sometimes mislabel the species they use. The mixed methodology employed here is useful for conservation planning as it updates knowledge of animal use in indigenous remedies and can accurately identify species of high conservation priority. Furthermore, the study highlights the possibility of collaborative conservation planning with traditional health practitioners.
09 Sep 2022Submitted to Molecular Ecology Resources
04 Oct 2022Submission Checks Completed
04 Oct 2022Assigned to Editor
06 Oct 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
21 Nov 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
14 Dec 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
13 Jan 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
13 Jan 20231st Revision Received
24 Apr 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
22 May 20232nd Revision Received
23 May 2023Submission Checks Completed
23 May 2023Assigned to Editor
23 May 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
31 Jul 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
13 Sep 20233rd Revision Received
14 Sep 2023Assigned to Editor
14 Sep 2023Submission Checks Completed
14 Sep 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
20 Sep 2023Editorial Decision: Accept