Trade in hedgehogs (Mammalia: Erinaceidae) in Morocco, with an overview of their trade for medicinal purposes throughout Africa and Eurasia

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Vincent Nijman
Daniel Bergin


Hedgehogs are traded locally and often in relatively small num--bers throughout Eurasia and Africa.  We here report on the trade in North African Hedgehog Atelerix algirus and to a smaller extent possibly the Desert Hedgehog Paraechinus aethiopicus in Morocco, and provide an overview of the global trade in hedgehogs for medicinal purposes.  In 2013 and 2014 we surveyed 20 Moroccan cities for a total of 48 times.  We recorded 114 hedgehogs (32 alive and 82 skins) for sale in 25 shops in 10 cities, with the largest numbers recorded in Casablanca and Marrakesh.  All live hedgehogs were identified as North African Hedgehog but skins could additionally have been of the Desert Hedgehog.  Shops often displayed only single hedgehog skins, but occasionally up to 48 skins, and live individuals were mostly traded singly or in pairs.  Over 80% of the shops selling hedgehogs were herbalists, selling herbs, spices, oils and animal parts, and both skins and live hedgehogs were intended to supply the demand for traditional (‘folk’) medicine.  At a global scale we found an additional 34 reports of trade in 12 or possibly 13 species of hedgehogs from 23 countries; five studies involving three species in China, South Africa and Benin, included data on the frequency and abundance of hedgehogs in trade, whereas the other studies were qualitative in nature.  Market data have limited value in gauging the off-take of hedgehogs from the wild to supply the traditional medicine trade, but we nevertheless urge the continuation of monitoring the trade in hedgehogs in Morocco and indeed elsewhere to ensure it does not become a threat to their survival in the foreseeable future.


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Author Biographies

Vincent Nijman, Oxford Wildlife Trade Research Group, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford OX1 0BP, UK

Vincent Nijman is trained as a biologist and currently holds a professorial chair in Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University in the UK. He has researched the trade in a range of taxa, mostly in Asia, and he has acted as a consultant to international conservation NGOs. Prior to studying the wildlife trade in Morocco as part of his MSc programme at Oxford Brookes University.


Daniel Bergin, Oxford Wildlife Trade Research Group, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford OX1 0BP, UK

Daniel Bergin worked as a qualified tour guide in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Recently he joined TRAFFIC researching the cross-border wildlife trade between Indonesia and Malaysia. 



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