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February 9 2013

Religious norms may alter animal life in Amazon

Religious and cultural norms often dictate which animals should be protected, eaten or avoided at all costs. Islam prohibits consuming pork; cows are considered sacred by Hindus; and most Americans squirm at the idea of eating a horse. These varying taboos and customs can change the faunal landscape around certain groups of people.

Researchers from Stanford University investigated how three Christian influences evangelical, Sabbatarian and Roman Catholic/Anglican may have altered animal treatment among converted indigenous communities in the Amazon. It turns out that missionaries might not only be changing hearts and minds in the region, but also biodiversity, the researchers say.

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