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Afro Asian Journal of Anthropology and Social Policy
Year : 2010, Volume : 1, Issue : 2
First page : ( 109) Last page : ( 119)
Print ISSN : 2229-4414.

Ethnographic Profile of Kani tribals, an Oldest Group of Ethnic Communities in Southern India

Ayyanar M.

Research Department of Botany Pachaiyappa's College Chennai - 600 030 Tamil Nadu, India.


India is one of the twelve mega-biodiversity countries of the world having rich vegetation with a wide variety of medicinal plants and a tradition of plant-based knowledge distributed amongst a vast number of ethnic groups. The tribals inhabiting the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger reserve (KMTR) are Kani/Kanikaran, one of the oldest groups of ethnic people in Southern India. They are traditionally nomadic community, who now lead a primarily settled life in the forests of the Agasthiyamalai hills (Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts of Tamil Nadu and Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala) of Western Ghats. The fieldwork in the villages of Kani tribals in KMTR of Tirunelveli hills commenced from January 2004 to March 2006. The Kani settlements were located through a number of field surveys in this region. They have outstanding knowledge about the plants and their uses especially for the preparation of medicine to treat various diseases. In the present study origin of Kani tribals, their life style, population, religious beliefs and their knowledge of medicinal plants are discussed. The study shows a high degree of ethnobotanical novelty and the use of plants among the Kanis reflects the revival of interest in traditional folk culture and ethnomedicine.



Ethnobotany, Kanikaran, Tribal people, Traditional healers, Western Ghats.


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