Ethnobotanical Leaflets 13: 33-39. 2009.
Measurement of Ethnic Knowledge Associated with Semecarpus anacardium
L. f. -- A Rare and Endangered Ethnobotanical Plant of Jharkhand,
Patanjali Herbal Garden & Agro Research Department, Off:
During the observation on ethnobotanical wealth used by the tribal people in their day to day needs, healthcare and socio-religious ceremonies of Jharkhand state of India, it was observed that due to the depletion of plants, the ethnic culture and associated knowledge system related with the plant species is also being lost. It has also seriously affected the oral traditions and knowledge of the tribal communities. To assess the above problem several indices like ‘Knowledge frequency’, ‘Plant-lore Index’ and percentage of ‘Community knowledge loss’ were developed to measure the knowledge status of tribes associated with Semecarpus anacardium L.f .
Semecarpus anacardium L.f . is a moderate sized tree
belonging to the family Anacardiaceae and known as ‘Marking nut tree’. Its Sanskrit
name is ‘Bhallatak’ and is widely used in
Indian system of medicine. Jharkhand (21o58/
- 25o 18/ N lat. and 83o 22/-87o
57/ E long.) being the
Questionnaire based (Table-1) random and rapid interviews have been conducted in the tribal villages among the tribal people in Jharkhand (Fig. 1) like Santhal and Mal Paharaia (Dumka), Sauria Paharia (Pakur), Munda and Oraon (Ranchi), Bedia (Hazaribagh) and Ho (Chaibasa). A minimum of one to two individuals of the plant species also occurred in these study sites. The selection of the above study sites was based on the remoteness of the area and the fact that the inhabitants are living in their traditional lifestyles. The studies were conducted on the following tribal communities: Santhal, Sauria Paharia, Mal Paharia, Oraon, Munda, Bedia and Ho. The tribal names for Semecarpus anacardium are ‘Soso’ (Santhal, Munda), ‘Kiro’(Sauria Paharia), ‘Bhelwa’ (Mal Paharia), ‘Bhelwa’, ‘Kiro’ (Oraon), ‘Bheli’, ‘Bhela’ and ‘Bhelawa’ (Ho). The plant specimen of Semecarpus anacardium was shown to ten tribal people in each community. These individuals are referred to here as ‘Targeted People’ (TP) for the purpose of this study in the above seven communities. All the tribal people interviewed in the present study were adults in tribal dress, and none had any interest in modern culture.
Presently, no statistical index exists to measure the Community knowledge loss in relation to specific plant species. Therefore, the estimation of ‘Knowledge frequency’, ‘Plant-lore Index’, and ‘Percentage of Community knowledge loss’ has great importance to observe the current knowledge status. It was calculated by a formula simplified by the author from a more complicated mathematical model. The total number of identified ‘Knowledge question’ i.e. K (N) was ten which was asked by the people regarding Semecarpus anacardium to assess the current status of ethnic knowledge in comparison with the earlier documented knowledge. The local or native name of plants called in indigenous languages has great importance and it was first question we asked the people in the study. There is a considerable linguistic diversity in local names frequently observed in tribal areas. The local names in indigenous language reveal the clue of forms, properties, and uses and sometimes it works like a key of folk taxonomy of the plant. In extensive and intensive field studies, it has been significantly noted that if the tribal people cannot say the tribal name of a particular plant in their own language it means they may perhaps do not know about the uses of that species. It has also the same meaning that they never used the plant. This matter is of great interest due to the proposed indicators of Convention on biological diversity’s 2010 target (Balmford, 2005) is for assessment of status and trends of linguistic diversity and number of speakers of indigenous languages in relation to traditional knowledge, innovation and practices. Therefore, in the above studies the questionnaire asked by the tribal people about the local name of plants in their own languages along with their uses which has overall a complete profile expected to answer by the tribal people
The ‘Knowledge frequency’ is Kf (%) and it equals to the percentage of knowledgeable people in the communities. It may calculated as, Kf (%) = Kp(n)/ TP(N) x 100, where Kp(n) denoted for the number of knowledgeable people in each community while TP(N) is the total number of tribal people may called as ‘Targeted people’ selected for the study, to whom the expected question was asked to answered.
Then a plant –lore Index
The ‘Community knowledge loss’ is the deduction of numbers of knowledge at presently survive i.e. Ks (n) among the community from the total number of knowledge question K (N) asked in interviewed in the study and calculated by the percentage i.e. CKL (%). Hence CKL (%) = K (N)-Ks (n)/ TP x 100.
All the calculated data is presented in Fig. (2), which is self-explanatory. There are many significant interpretations that may be achieved through the above indices but briefly it reveals that there are maximum plant-lore or knowledge abundance in Santhal community while Ho has great community knowledge loss. The above studies will be immensely valuable towards the assessment of survival of community knowledge in relation to depleting plants, their management and preservation of cultural heritage of ethnoherbology (Kumar & Singh, 2001).
In the above study it was observed that the sustainable knowledge of the plant survival in the communities is directly depends on sustainable availability of plant genetic resources and there are no chance to appear the lesser-known uses of that plant which has been disappeared from the region.
The present wok is an
additional work of an ongoing project related with bioprospection
of ethnobotanical important plants of Jharkhand, sponsored by Ministry of Environment & Forests,
Govt. of India,
Balmford, A., L. Bennun, B. Brink, D. Cooper, I.M. Cote, P. Crane, A. Dobson, N. Dudley, I. Dutton, R.E. Green, R.D. Gregory, J. Harrison, E.T. Kennedy, C. Kremen, N. Leader-Williams, T.E. Lovejoy , G. Mace, R. May, P. Mayaux, P. Morling, J. Phillips, K. Redfort, T.H. Rickettes, J. P. Rodriguez, M. Sanjayan, P.J. Schei, A.S. Jaarsveld and B.A. Walther. 2005. The Convention on Biological diversity, s. 2010. Science 07: 212-213.
Kumar, K. 2005. Bioprospecting
of potential rare and endangered ethnobotanical
important plant species of Jharkhand, Project technical report,
submitted to Ministry of Environment
& Forests, Govt. of India,
Kumar, K. and K. K. Singh 2001. Urgent need for preservation of the cultural heritage of Ethnoherbology. Current Science, 81(3): 231.
Rao, R. R. 1994. Biodiversity in
Table 1. Knowledge survives among the tribal communities.
The signs + and – denotes knowledge survival and knowledge loss respectively.
Fig. 1. a. Santhal men; b. Sauria Paharia women; c. Ho people; d. Seeds of Semecarpus anacardium L.f.; and, e. individual tree.