Country study on burkina faso biodiversity conducted by the permanent secretariat of the national council for the management of the environment and the national

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The uses that the Burkinabè population make of the constituent elements or products of the biological diversity are numerous, but the main ones are: human feeding, energy, health, domestic needs, handicraft, industry, trade, animal feed, culture, tradition, religion, rituals, etc.

The socio-economic value of biological diversity resides not only in the direct use that one makes of biological resources, but also in the indirect uses, such as the ecological services (eg. : improvement of the quality of water and air, the fixing of nitrogen, the formation of soils), socio-cultural uses (eg. : religious and cultural functions), recreational and aesthetic uses (eg. : tourism of vision), etc. These uses end up at the level of feeding and the different sectors of activity that are interested in biological diversity.
Thus, some thematic studies made in the context of the present monograph permitted to determine the following supplies of biological diversity to the national economy in 1996:

  • Standing wood : 177, 394 million m3;

  • big fauna: 35 species whose inventory in not yet exhaustive;

  • fisheries: 12, 500 tons per year, of which only 7 000 tons are exploited;

  • forest and fruit seedlings produced in nurseries: 12 million of which only a maximum of 4 million is transplanted;

  • cereals: 2,.963,.300 tons of which 129,700 tons of rice;

  • proteaginous: 665,000 tons of which 177,600 tons for cotton, 194,400 tons for groundnuts and 41,170 tons for tubers;

  • livestock (bovines, ovine, caprines, porcines, asines, equines, camelins): 18 million heads (breeding contributes 12% to the GDP and 16% to exports);

  • rabbits: 67,000 heads;

  • pets (dog and cats): 900,000 heads;

  • poultry: 22 million heads.

In addition to these elements, there is also the contribution of tourism of vision to the national economy; for example, this contribution was 17,791, 548 US dollars in 1993.

Due to the socio-economic and sociocultural importance of the national biological diversity, measures and policies of natural resources management have been developed since the colonial period.


The economy of Burkina Faso essentially depends on agro-pastoral produce, therefore on biological diversity. Indeed, it is this diversity that constitutes the source of subsistence of the populations and that provides the essential of export produce and products among which we can cite cotton, green beans, livestock, leathers and skins, sheanuts, etc.

Benefits derived from biological resources in Burkina Faso depend on the virtues that the different ethnic groups of the country give to the species. Indeed, it must be noticed that the importance of a plant or animal species, through its products, is relative and evolutionary: relative when we consider the diversity of uses within ethnic groups, evolutionary because with time a product can be the object of great interest or of no interest on the part of the populations. For example, the use made of Acacia macrostachya seeds (Acacia with thick ears) for feeding in the Moosé and Samo areas is completely unknown to a lot of other ethnic groups in Burkina Faso. Also, the benefits that will be mentioned below are those that are the most commonly known. Plants (flora)

The main types of products derived from plants in Burkina Faso are shown in table 30

Table 30: Plant products


Types of products









Gum and resin






Food (grains, leaves)



Others (Ornament, rope, mats and secos, chairs and beds, shade, poison, chewing stick, utensils …)


Food (cereals, leguminous, tubers)

Market garden produce


Sugar cane



Building materials (straw, fibres)

Others (weaving)

These benefits are derived from the flora, either in the wild or tamed state. It is important to underline that the number of species established by type of product is not even determined with accurateness. Nevertheless, this document presents the existing data below, particularly, with regard to the importance of the socio-economic and socio-cultural ligneous species that are relatively more studied in this respect, a few data on the agricultural herbaceous species of marked economic interest. Inventory of ligneous species of socio-economic importance

In the main document of the Strategic Plan of Scientific Research (agricultural research section), and for the improvement of forest resources, fifty six (56) species among the most utilised in Burkina Faso were indexed (Table 31)

On the basis of a listing according to nine types of uses: human food, energy, health, domestic needs, handicraft, industry, agriculture, animal feed and ecological interest, sixteen species were retained for the programme of forest resource improvement according to their degree of use. These species, by their wood and various non-ligneous productions that they offer, are of marked socio-economic importance.
They are:

Acacia albida, Acacia senegal, Adansonia digitata, Anogeissus leiocarpus, Azadirachta indica, Balanites aegyptiaca, Borassus aethiopum, Butyrospermum paradoxum, Detariun microcarpum,Khaya senegalensis, Maerua crassifolia, Parkia biglobosa, Prosopis africana, Sclerocarya birrea, Tamarindus indica and Ziziphus mauritiana.
On the basis of the nomenclature of AUBREVILLE A., 1949, for woods, and various studies on species of various interest (BOGNOUNOU O., 1987; GUINKO S., 1985; PERROT E., 1925 ; etc.), an open list can be drawn concerning species of marked socio-economic interest in Burkina Faso.
This list is global, and does not take into account the parameter of diversity of uses according to the ethnic groups and ecological zones. Indeed, it must be admitted that the importance of a plant species, through its productions is relative and evolutionary: relative if we consider the diversity of use among the different ethnic groups, relative and evolutionary through history and dependent on the economic demand of the moment, especially in market economy.
Thus, the seed of Acacia macrostachya is at the basis of the highly appreciated culinary specialty in the Mossi, Samo, and Léla areas. This use is totally unknown in the Bwaba areas, pending its discovery in the context of exchanges by contact between migrating populations and the native ones. The edible leaves of Pterocarpus lucens are not eaten among the Bobo and Bwaba populations, whereas they are the basis of a highly appreciated sauce in the Samo and Yadga areas.
Table 31: Most commonly used ligneous species in Burkina Faso





1. Acacia albida


29. Fagara xanthoxyloide


2. Acacia macrostachya


30. Gmelina arborea


3. Acacia nilotica var. adansanii


31. Guibourtia copallifera


4. Acacia nilotica var. tomentosa


32. Guiera senegalensis


5. Acacia nilotica senegal


33. Hyphaene thebaica


6. Adansonia digitata


34. Holarrhena floribunda


7. Afzelia africana


35. Isoberlinia doka


8. Anogeissus leiocararpus


36. Khaya senegalensis


9. Azadirachta indica


37. Landolphia heudelotii


10. Balanites aegyptica


38. Lannea microcarpa


11. Blighia sapida


39. Maerua crassifolia


12. Bmbax costatum


40. Mitragyna inermis


13. Borassus acthiopum


41. Nauclea latifolia


14. Boscia senegalensis


42. Parinari curatelifolia


15. Boswellia dalzielli


43. Parkia biglobosa


16. Butyrospermum paradoxum


44. Prosopis africana


17. Canarium schweinfurthii


45. Pterocarpus erinaceus


18. Ceiba pentandra


46. Pterocarpus lucens


19. Celtis integrifolia


47. Rauvolfia vomitora


20. Combretum micranthum


48. Saba senegalensis


21. Commiphora africana


49. Salvadora persica


22. Crateva religiosa


50. Sclerocarya birrea


23. Daniellia oliveri


51. Sterculia setigera


24. Dalbergia melanoxylan


52. Tamarindus indica


25. Detarium microcarpum


53. Vitex doniana


26. Diospyros mespiliformis


54. Voacanga africana


27. Entada africana


55. Ximenia americana


28. Eucalyptus camaldulensis


56. Ziziphus mauritania


Degree of use (1 = least utilised species; 10 = most utilised species)

Source: Scientific Research Strategic Plan.
After this qualitative presentation of the main species of socio-economic interest, some data on their products that follow permit to situate their importance in the Burkinabè economy.
Historically the region of Bobo-Dioulasso was at the beginning of the century an important producer of natural rubber. From the natural planting of Landolphia heudelotii, the region provided in a year (KNIGHT A., 1905) seventy (70) tons of rubber. The introduction of hevea unfortunately ruined this economic hope. However, during World War II, Burkina and the different States of the ex-AOF (French West Africa), provided 3,446 tons of Landolphia heudelotii rubber as their contribution to the war effort against Hitlerien fascism (AUBREVILLE A., 1949). The latex of the liana still continuues to be exploited but it is used solely as “dissolution” for the retreading of tyres.
If Carapa procera was exploited at the beginning of the century for its oilseeds (the demand was high from Marseille), the tree is only quite important locally. The seed continues to provide oil used in cosmetics and soap factory; ground, it is used in pharmacopoeia as anti-diarrhoeal and to attenuate the effect of palm wine from Borassus aethiopum.
As for Canarium schweinfurthii, Emile PERROT (1925) signalled the sale of balls of resin gums of this essence on the Orodara market. The incense of the country continues to be used and commercialised, but it remains of local importance as well as the resin gums of other Burseraceaes (Commiphora africana, Boswellia dalzielii).
We can signal as a source of vegetable fat Pentadesma butyracea giving Lami butter. Forgotten by AUBREVILLE A. in his excellent work that is his Sudano-Guinean Flora; this relict tree forms some small populations in Tagara and the region of Sokouraba in the province of the Kénédougou.
The enumeration could be long. We are therefore going to limit the list voluntarily. In placing ourselves from the point of view of the centre of interest of the foresters, it appears to us interesting to deliver the economic appreciation of Aubréville on the plant productions of the forest species of the dry regions of West Africa, productions that did not benefit from enough interest like those of the dense forest regions.
a) The main types of ligneous production
The local species (AUBREVILLE A., 1949) will be enumerated by main type of production by taking up the author's nomenclature. The scientific partners are actualised in taking up those in force in the last edition of Flora of West Tropical Africa of Hutchinson L.J. & Dalziel J.M. revised by Hepper F.N.

  • Ebony tree

The main species that provide wood for woodwork are :

  • Mahogany of Senegal, Caïlcédrat (Khaya senegalensis) : dense, colourful Mahogany, used for artisan manufacture of most furnishings;

  • Vène (Pterocarpus erinaceus) : this essence gives a light yellowish, brown veined violaceae wood with polished beauty;

  • Ebony of Senegal (Dalbergia melanoxylon) : veined wood, classified as ebony.

  • Timber

The list of species that provides wood for building is composed of :

  • Khaya senegalensis;

  • Pterocarpus erinaceus;

  • Dalbergia melanoxylon;

  • Afzelia africana, of the best dry woods,;

  • Isoberlinia doka;

  • Acacia nilotica variety adansonii / tomentosa variety, gases to tannifer pods;

  • Erythrophleum guineense;

  • Afrormosia laxiflora;

  • Anogeissus leiocarpus;

  • Prosopis africana, wood very hard;

  • Celtis integrifolia;

  • Diospyros mespiliformis;

  • Daniellia oliveri, wood of caisserie,;

  • Acacia sieberiana;

  • Borassus aethiopum, the trunk used whole or split, constitutes a precious construction material for building bridges;

  • Hyphaene thebaica, important construction material in Sahelian zones where construction materials are relatively rare.

  • Firewood and charcoal

Wood constitutes the main source of energy in Burkina Faso. Also, we can easily understand the importance given to firewood by the populations of the country. Except for some essence and tree specimen that are the object of socio-cultural value and Stereospermum kunthianum of which the inhalation of the smoke makes man feel dizzy, all the other species are used as firewood. Species with hard wood are used for charcoal (e.g. : Butyrospermum paradoxum, Pterocarpus erinaceus (vene), Pterocarpus lucens, Tamarindus indica, Diospyros mespiliformis, etc.)

  • Oilseeds

Sheanut tree (Butyrospernum paradoxum) : its seed gives consistent fat (shea butter) with multiple uses (food, cosmetics, pharmacopoeia, etc.).

  • Kapok trees

These are the productive kapok species, such Bombax costatums and Ceiba pentandras.

  • Gum trees

Gum is an exudation that is produced in the dry season on the trunk of some plant species, essentially of the Acacia kind. The gum produced by Acacia senegal is one of the best, both by its adhesive properties and water solubility. The very dense species (more than 100 trees per hectare), dense (30 to 100 trees per hectare), less dense (5 to 30 trees per hectare) are especially important in zones of Sahelian climate.

Besides Acacia senegal, other species produce gum. These are : Acacia seyal, Combretum nigricans, Anogeissus leiocarpus, Sterculia setigera, Acacia nilotica.

  • Copalierses

Guibourtia copallifera, species exuding a hard copal called copal of Guinea.

  • Tannins species

- Acacia nilotica variety adansonii, Acacia nilotica variety tomentosa, Acacia nilotica variety nilotica, Burkea africana, Hymenocardia acida, Bridelia ferruginea.

  • Latex

  • Landolphia heudelotii

  • Manihot glaziovii

  • Butyrospermum paradoxum

  • Bamboos

There is only one species of bamboo that grows naturally in Burkina Faso ; it is about Oxytenanthera abyssinica, that provides hollow bamboo.

A particular mention must be made of the different wood species used in handicraft, construction and for different services, species for which the demand remains permanent. GUINKO S., 1984, gives many examples of them.
If the availability of some species (Lannea microcarpa, Sclerocarya birrea, that are used for making wooden bowls) are relatively important, others are becoming rarer and rarer because of some overexploitation and difficulties of natural and assisted regeneration. We will mention species such as Pseudocedrela kotschyii, Prosopis exelsa, as well as the particular case of relict forest gallery species (Chlorophora africana, Antiaris afticana), exploited by modern sawmills in the province of Comoé.

b) Ligneous species of other interests

We will mention some groups of species which deserve a particular attention. These are : improvable fruit species by selection or grafting, improvable ornamental plants by selection or stuffing, trees with food organs (leaves, fruits, seeds), medicinal plants, local ligneous species of fodder interest.

  • Improvable fruit species by selection or grafting

This list is inspired by Roberty,1950, but it has been improved.
Annona senegalensis Blighia sapida

Cordia myxa Detarium microcarpum

Diospyros mespiliformis Gardenia erubescens

Lannea spp. Nauclea latifolia

Parinari curatelifolia Saba senegalensis

Sclerocarya birrea Spondias mombin

Strychnos spinosa S. innocua

Tamarindus indica Vitex doniana

Ximenia americana Ziziphus mauritiana

  • Ornemental plants

Various acacia in quickset hedges Erythrina senegalensis

Cassia sieberiana Feretia apodanthera

Heeria insignis Securidaca longepedunculata

Stereospermum kunthianum Strophanthus sarmentosus

Bauhinia rufescens Darlings nucifera
We can add to this list the different shade trees or trees with landscaped function (Ficus sp., Cola cordifolia, Khaya senegalensis, etc.) and the various species of ritual value.

  • Food organ (leaves, fruits, seeds) trees

Acacia macrostachya (seeds)

Adansonia digitata (leaves, fruits)

Afzelia africana (leaves)

Annona senegalensis (flowers, fruits)

Balanites aegyptiaca (leaves, fruits, seeds)

Bombax costatum (flowers, chalice, in the Moosi area, Bissa, Lela...)

Boscia senegalensis (fruits)

Capparis corymbosa (fruits)

Crateva religiosa (leaves)

Detarium microcarpum (fruits)

Diospiros mespiliformis (fruits)

Lannea microcarpa (fruits)

Lannea acida (fruits)

Ficus gnaphalocarpa (leaves, fruits)

Maerua angolensis (leaves)

Piliostigma reticulatum and P. thonningii (leaves) acidification of

water for the cooking of “tô”

Pterocarpus lucens (leaves)

Securidaca longepedunculata (leaves)

Tamaridus indica (leaves, fruits)

Vitex doniana (leaves, fruits)

Ziziphus mauritiana (fruits)

  • Remarkable medicinal plants

Acacia albida Mentha piperita

Agave sisala Mentha viridis

Allium sativum Moringa oleifera

Arachis hypogaea Parkia biglobosa

Azadirachta indica Pisum sativum

Balanites aegyptiaca Punica granatum

Cajanus cajan Rauvolfia vomitora

Capsicum annum Ricinus communis

Capsicum frutescens Saccharum officinarum

Carapa procera Securidaca longepedunculata

Carica papaya Sesamum indicum

Cassia italica Solanum nigrum

Cassia occidentalis Sterculia setigera

Cassia sieberiana Strophantus hispidus

Catharanthus roseus Tamarindus indica

Citus limonum Thevetia neriifolia

Darlings nucifera Tinospora bakis

Combretum micranthum Trichilia roka

Cymbopogon citratus Voacanga africana

Datura stramonium Xanthoxylum xanthoxyloides

Danillia oliveri Zea mays

Elaeis guineensis medicinal Zingiber officinale

Elaeis guineensis

Glicine soy

Holarrhena floribunda

Lawsonia alba

Lawsonia inermis

  • Perfume plants

Ocimum spp. Mentha spp.

Cymbopogon citratus Cymbopogon giganteus

  • Local ligneous species of fodder interest

All zootechnicians (GILLET, H., 1980) now agree to set to about 20% the minimum ligneous fodder part in the food ration of bovines in the dry season, in Sahelian and North-Sudanese zones.

Because of their richness in proteins, mineral salts, phosphorus and oligo elements, these species contribute in a non-negligible manner to the food and physiological balance of the livestock. In addition, their availability (leaves, flowers, fruits) in full dry season, when there is no grass, contributes to the survival of livestock during the critical periods. The ligneous species presented in Table 32 have an aerial foliage that contains a high nutritious value:

As far as fruits are concerned, in spite of the limited knowledge on their nutritious value, they are of a non-negligible contribution. Here are two examples for illustrative purposes:

Proteins (%) Phosphorus (%)

Acacia albida 11.7 0.12

Balanites aegyptiaca 11.2 0.12

  • Food complement of plant origin (sources: BOGNOUNOU O., 1978; SAVONNET G., 1973; SCHNELL R., 1957; PROST A. and WEDRAOGO J., 1951).

These foods are provided by the simple picking of organs (leaves, fruits, seeds, tubers, rhizomes, roots etc.) of spontaneous plants not being part of an agricultural network, or at the stage of protoculture (case of Gynandropsis gynandra). From food point of view, their importance is not to be underestimated, because these plants contribute, in a direct or indirect way, to food balance, notably in the period of scarcity.

Food complements available in Burkina Faso and analysed by ORANA, Dakar, are:
- Starchy food : Tacca involucrata; Walnut and graines : Adansonia digitata, Balanites aegyptiaca, Boscia senegalensis,Parkia biglobosa;

- Vegetables and leaves: Adansonia digitata, Amaranthus viridis, Cassia tora, Corchoru olitorius, Ficus gnaphalocarpa, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Moringa pterygospenna (Mr. Oleifera) Amaranthus spinosus, Piliostigma reticulatum, Ceratotheca sesamoïdes, Crateva religiosa, Gymnandropsis pentaphylla (G. Gynandra), Leptadenia lancifolia (L. hastata);

- Fruits : Adansonia digitata, Cola cordifolia, Diospyros mespiliformis, Landolphia heudelotii, Parkia biglobosa Borrassus aethiopum Detarium microcarpum, Ficus gnaphalocarpa, Landolphia senegalensis,(Saba senegalensis), Spondias mombin.

Plants that give food complements in period of scarcity are: Dactyloctenium aegyptium, Setaria pallidefusca, Slylochiton hypogaeus.

Table 32: Nutritional Values of some ligneous fodder species

(according to LE HOUEROU  H.N., 1980)


Raw proteins (%)

Phosphorus (%)

Non-silicate minerals (%)

Degree of appetence (scale: 1 to 5)

Acacia radianne





Acacia senegal





Acacia seyal





Balanites aegyptia





Cadaba farinosa





Celtis integrifolia





Commiphora africana





Acacia albida





Khaya senegalensis





Maerua crassifolia





Lonchocarpus laxiflorus





Pterocarpus erinaceus





Degree of appetence: (1 = little appete; 5 = very appete) Main plant production inventory (herbaceous farm) of marked economic interest (KELLERMANN J., 1967).

Among the herbaceous farm crops some have produce that are of great economic interest. These are :

- cereals: Sorghum, Rice, Corn, Barley,;

- vegetable plants: Green cabbage, Cauliflower, Turnip, Radish, Cucumber, Melon, Green beans, Tomato, Onion, Garlic, Okro;

- fruit crops: * Irrigated : Citrus fruits, Avocado tree, Banana tree, Date palm;

* Non-irrigated : Cashew, Mango tree, Strawberry plant ;

- sugar plants: Sugar cane;

- oleiferous plants: Groundnut, Sesame, Soy, Sunflower, Castor oil plant;

- stimulating plants: Tobacco;

- textile plants: Sisal, Cotton;

- tubers: Cassava, Yam, Sweet potato. Species of socio-cultural importance

a) Generalities

Correspondences, messages and beliefs exist between the African and his plant environment. This is translated notably by the conservation and protection of sacred woods, even the veneration of a certain number of species.
In a country like Burkina Faso that has about sixty ethnic groups with a socio-cultural diversity, where each nationality has its own culture bound to species of its environment and the ecological conditions where it lives, the identification of socio-cultural species is not easy, and requires detailed research, notably ethnobotanic, anthropological, cultural etc.
A certain number of species can however be indexed and grouped in 4 main categories:

1 . those of groves or sacred woods (generally located in villages)

2 . those used to make sacred masks (woods, leaves and fibres)

3 . those with totemic and sacred value

4 . those struck with various prohibitions (prohibition to cut, prohibition to eat, etc.)
b) Species of socio-cultural importance
Referring to works of CHEVALIER A.  , OUEDRAOGO J., 1968, RETELL - LAURENTIN, O. KABORE and field notes of BOGNOUNOU O, species shown in Table 33 are used in making masks.

Table 33 : List of main species used for the making masks.

Botanical name

Mossi name

Afzelia african

Lannea microcarpa


Cassytha filiformis

Canarium schweinfurthii

Tamarindus indica


Adansonia digitata


Gardenia erubescens


Ficus sp


Khaya senegalensis


Sclerocarya birrea


Parkia biglobosa


Butyrospermum paradoxum


c) Ligneous species of sacred woods

Sacred woods are areas protected on the customary plan for sacred rituals, often constituting "real sanctuaries of nature". In the analysis of these particular formations CHEVALIER A, 1950, had identified the main species of it in French Sudan (present Mali) and in regions where ethnic groups such as the Sénoufo found in Burkina Faso live.

Table 34 : Ligneous species of sacred woods

Scientific name

Mossi name

English name

Adansonia digitata



Albizia chevalieri


Albizia of Chevalier

Anogeissus leiocarpus


Birch of Africa

Anitaris africana

Bligia sapida

Delicious Blizia, Finzan

Borassus aethiopum



Ceiba pentandra


Kapok tree

Combretum micrantum



Diospiros mespiliformis


Ebony tree

Elaeis guineensis

Palm tree

Khaya senegalensis



Pachystela argentea

Pterocarpus erinaceus



For the case of Burkina Faso, GUINKO S., 1985, by a phytosociological and phytogeographic analysis of wooded relicts, identified three main groupings:

  • grouping under Antiaris africana and Chlorophora excelsa (in the phytogeographic districts of the western Black Volta and Comoé);

  • grouping under Anogeissus leiocarpus and Pterocarpus erinaceus (most widespread, and situated in the northern soudanese phytogeographic domain);

  • grouping under Anogeissus leiocarpus and Combretum nigricans elliotii variety.

Out of the total ligneous and herbaceous species recorded in these different groupings 77.6% are elements of the Sudanese-Zambezian flora and 3.5% of the Guineo-Congolese flora, plus other phytogeographic elements. Wild vertebrates

The contribution of products from mammals, birds, fishes, reptiles and amphibians to the national economy is very substantial, because it is around 29%.

Principal benefits from animal resources are enumerated in Table 35.
Table 35: Products and services from animal resources


Products and services


Food (meat, milk, eggs)

Exportation of livestock

Production of leather and hides

Tourism of vision


Animal traction



Food (meat)

(Mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians)


Tourism of vision (safaris)


Hunting sport


Food (meat)

Fishing sport Domestic animals

Among the products from fauna, those of domestic animals occupy a place of choice, notably at the food and commercial level. Data on the economic values of these products can be appreciated as shown below.

According to data collected in SANA O., 1997, the contribution of breeding to the GDP increased with the passing of years, from 7.5% in 1985 to 11.5% in 1995. Table 36 presents data by year of the period considered.
Table 36: Contribution of breeding to GDP from 1985 to 1995


National GDP (in thousands of F CFA)

Contribution of breeding to the national GDP)

Valued added (in thousands of F CFA)



664 093

49 507



668 964

56 193



670 059

56 285



727 175

58 174



776 429

59 785



772 852

62 601



780 964

65 601



775 159

68 214



850 683

69 080



1 115 636

114 998



1 236 801

141 751


Source : National Institute of Statistics and Demography

In addition to this global contribution of breeding to the GDP, there are the following different uses of domestic animals by kind that it is advisable to enumerate.

  • Bovines (ox or Bos indicus).

Oxen are used more and more like animals of traction for ploughing farms. Bulls are used for the customary (funerals, rituals, etc.) and religious ceremonies (Ramadan and Tabaski) in most of the regions of Burkina Faso. In some regions of the country, like the provinces of Bougouriba and Poni, oxen are used in dowry in the context of marriages. Cow milk constitutes a substantial contribution in the food of populations.

  • Ovines (sheep or Ovis aries)

Sheep are used for sacrifices in the context of ancestral and Moslem religions. Hence, for example, AID EL KEBIR or feast of Tabaski, is nicknamed “feast of sheep”, because of the nearly indispensable character of the sacrifice of ram on this occasion by faithful Moslem.

  • Caprines (goat or Capra hircus)

Caprines or domestic goats, are equally used for feasts and sacrifices. The he goat is sometimes considered a sacred animal in the traditional beliefs of some regions (e.g. : some localities of the Bissa area and of the province of Kénédougou), and from this fact it can only be killed with the will of the ancestors whose agreement is only obtained by sacrificial rituals.

  • Porcines (pig or Sus cristatus)

The pig is only used for the production of meat, but its consumption is proscribed by the Moslem religion. The relative easiness of its breeding and the high degree of its productivity make of it an important means of contribution of currency for people who raise it.

  • Asines (donkey or Equus asinus)

The donkey constitutes a powerful means of transportation in Burkina Faso and in other countries of the sub-region: The Burkinabè film-maker, Ismael OUEDRAOGO, rightly nicknamed it “the docker of the Sahel”, because it is the animal that transports everything in this zone (traction of ploughs and carts, transportation of wood, blocks and millet stalks, transportation of man and water etc.).

  • Equines (horse or Equus cabali)


The horse is used by the Burkinabè people as means of transportation and for traction. It is an animal of prestige which is often used for parades during customary ceremonies of village chiefs.

  • Camelines (dromedary or Camelus dromaderus)

The dromedary is an efficient means of transporting possessions and materials. It also serves to pull water from deep wells. Dromedary milk is of good quality and is used in the preparation of cheese.

  • Dogs (Canis familiaris)

The dog is an animal of company that is especially used for taking care of dwellings and for hunting. Some traditionalists sometimes use it for sacrifices.

  • Cats (Fellis catus)

The cat is equally an animal of company that essentially serves those who raise it to get rid of some harmful animals (mice, rats) and dangerous animals (such as the snake ) for man.

  • Hens (Gallus gallus) and guinea-fowl (Numida meleacus)

The hen and the guinea-fowl present a lot of interests in the Burkinabè society. Thus, they are used to make ritual sacrifices and for gifts to strangers. They are equally sources of proteins and currency. Wild animals

With regard to the wild vertebrates, we can affirm that they play an important role in the life of Burkinabè communities. Their socio-economic values are very important. Thus, all vertebrates that exist in Burkina Faso participate in one way or the other in the satisfaction of fundamental needs of the rural and urban communities, and of tourists in the domain of food, traditional medicine, education, culture, scientific research and leisures.

On the economic plan the wild vertebrates bring their share of contribution through hunting, tourism of vision and synergetic tourism.
Through the organisation of hunting in Burkina, vertebrates such as mammals, birds and in a least measure reptiles, allow public finance, economic operators and rural populations to get yearly incomes of over two billion CFA Francs, and to produce more than 50 tons of game meat per year, of a monetary value of more than 600 million CFA francs. The most exploited species are, by order of importance of the number of species killed : francolines (Francolinus coqui, F., Albogularis, F., Bicalcaratus), falsely called partridge, the African hare (Lepus capensis), the warthog (Phacochoerus africanus), cobe redunca (Redunca redunca), the ourebi (Ourebia ourebi), the cobe of buffon (Kobus kob), the bubale (Alcelaphus buselaphus), the hippotrague (Hippotragus equinus), the buffalo (Syncerus caffer), guib harnacea (Tragelaphus scriptus) and cob defassa (Kobus ellipsiprymnus). Burkina Faso records at least 1500 hunters annually and half of them are foreign, especially French.

Ecological tourism, for its part, records more than 5000 tourists per year, and it is essentially Fauna Reserves that are visited (National Park of Arly, Nazinga Game Ranch).

A summary investigation and a visit to a market specialised in the sale of medicinal products (BOINSE YAR market in Ouagadougou), permit to realise the importance of vertebrates in the domain of pharmacopoeia. Sheds of the aforementioned market, located in full centre of Ouagadougou, are packed with an important quantity of skins, bones and various parts of vertebrates.
A tradipractician even asserted that any animal possesses some remedy in it, but that it is necessary to know the useful part of its body and its association to other complementary products.
On the cultural plan, a lot of vertebrates and especially the wild mammals still constitute an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Several cultural events in Burkina Faso use various parts of the vertebrate body as masks and motives. Besides, almost all the carved masks represent the totality or some of wild animals. Vertebrates also intervene in education through tales and stories. For example, they often embody power (the lion), intelligence (the hare), wisdom (the elephant), silliness (the hyena), and are therefore used in oral expression to moralise society.
Aquatic fauna also has important economic and social uses. It is especially the fish that occupies a place of choice in this domain. In general, all species of fish present in Burkina Faso are consumed by the populations. However, some of them are sacred: This is the case in Bobo-Dioulasso where the mudfish is sacred for natives of this city. Species most exploited are those that are found in most of the lakes, notably Tilapia (carps, Tilapia nilotica, for example), Clariases (Mudfish, Clarias anguillaris, for example), Lateses (Captains, Lates niloticus, for example), and occasionally Synodontises, Bagrus and Chrysichtys, and Labeo kinds.
The food value of fish, appreciated by the level of consumption, is 60Kg per fisherman/year, 5 Kg per inhabitant/year for the city of Ouagadougou, and only 1.5 Kg per burkinabe/year.
The socio-economic importance of fishing for the rural populations results from the fact that piscicultural exploitation takes place in the counter agricultural season in the small dams that represent 80% of the total number. From this fact, this activity perfectly conciliates with the farmers’ daily tasks and allows him to get new sources of income and to enrich his food. The increase in incomes is even better felt in the lake areas that benefited from the training of the ministry in charge of fishing.
The other aquatic fauna species or those subservient to water, such as turtles, bactrachians and snakes, intervene to a certain extent in food, leatherwork and especially pharmacopoeia. That is the case with toads, frogs, turtles and pythons. The traditional breeding of frog is done in certain ricefields and swamps in the western part of the country where rudimentary developments are undertaken to ensure the grouping of these bactrachians. This practice is due to the fact that the big restaurants of Bobo-Dioulasso consume frog thighs.

The aquatic bactrachians sometimes serve as baits for the fishing of carnivorous fishes. There is no study capable of giving an indication with figures on the socio-economic value of this aquatic fauna category. Insects

Numerous insect species are useful to man. Thus, hymenopteran species intervene in the pollination of plants. A large number of other species are used for nutritional support for man in Burkina Faso. It is the case of caterpillar from shea trees, Cirina butyrospermii (caterpillar of shea tree, consumed in the western part of Burkina Faso), winged termites of the Macrotermes kind, locusts, grasshoppers and praying mantises. Some insects produce substances that man feeds on. This has been the case, for a long time, of honey produced by bees. A lot of insects play an important role in the natural equilibrium, and some are used for biological fight. In this case we can mention the example of the Coccinellidaes, many Hymenopterans in industrialised countries and of beetles of the Neochetina kind (Neochetina bruchi and N. eichhorniae in the context of the fight against water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). Insects also achieve the recycling of organic matter such as Scarabeidaes, that are never destroyed by farmers. Termites favour the infiltration of water into the soil ; they thus play a great role in a country with an arid and semi-arid climate like Burkina Faso. Microorganisms

Benefits derived from microorganisms are located on several plans. But in Burkina Faso few measures are taken for the meantime for the optimal valorisation of this part of the constituent elements of biological diversity. However, the country derives profit from microorganisms even though it is not posted. The table that follows enumerates the beneficial actions of perceptible microorganisms for the improvement of the standard of living of our populations.

Table 37: Beneficial Actions of microorganisms


Indicator of action

Type of action

Food production

Fertilisation of soils

Fixing of nitrogen

Formation of compost

Protection of the environment

Protection of soils

Fertilisation of soils

Deterioration of pollutants


Production of proteins

Production of yeasts


Production of biogas

Mineralisation of organic matters


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