Conceiving venomousness and the variability of species. Cases of Echis leucogaster from Western Niger

Date and Time: 
Friday, 18 March, 2016 - 09:00
, Tilman - University Bayreuth / Germany

The contribution discusses cases of Echis leucogaster envenomation in Western Niger and tries to give an example of how venomousness could be perceived in a local context; at the same, it outlines an ethnobiological approach to the topic of variability on a species- and subspecies level (Echis sp.). E. leucogaster, which only in the 1970s was classified as a species of its own, is of particular interest: Clinical descriptions of envenomations caused by its bite seem almost inexistent, and many authors refer to other Echis sp. when discussing the topic. This is however problematic, given the high variability of snake venom. Furthermore, clinical descriptions of envenomations in the African context are generally not very numerous compared to other continents. The present contribution discusses thus the study of local clinical observations made by healers as the anthropological input to a (future) interdisciplinary research of venom variability.