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Biology Articles » Ethnobiology » Animal Sacrifice In Brazilian Folk Religion
Candomblé, a religion practiced primarily in South America and inspired
by older African beliefs, makes much use of animal sacrifice.
Researchers writing in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
carried out interviews with priests, priestesses and adherents of the
religion, documenting the role sacrifice plays in their beliefs.
Nivaldo Léo Neto, from the Universidade Estadual da Paraba, Brazil,
worked with a team of researchers to carry out the structured and
semi-structured interviews. He said, "A total of 29 animal species were
used during sacrificial rituals, according to the priests and
priestesses. Animals are sacrificed and offered to their deities, known
as orishas, for the prosperity of all life".
The practice of sacrifice is present in several cultures, and is
fundamental to many religions including Judaism, Christianity, and
Islam. In Candomblé, it is believed that some essence of the sacrificed
animal 'feeds' one of several supernatural deities known as orishas, who
will in turn attend to the believers' requests and desires, healing
diseases and solving financial or personal problems.
According to Léo Neto, "Domestic animals are mostly preferred for
sacrificial purposes as wild animals are often considered sacred by
adherents of the religion or are protected by environmental laws. Of the
wild species used, only the yellow-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis
denticulata) is threatened with extinction. In general, these practices,
compared to many other human uses of wildlife, are not of serious
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