Ecological and Anthropological Threats to Ethno-Medicinal Plant Resources and their Utilization in Maasai Communal Ranches in the Amboseli Region of Kenya
AbstractUse of traditional medicine is prevalent among rural communities of Africa. They have immense knowledge on ethno-medicine but its use is rapidly diminishing partly due to lifestyle changes and exposure to Western ideologies. This study investigated threats to medicinal plant resources and knowledge on their use in a communally owned Maasai group ranch through a questionnaire and discussions. Traditional medicine was preferred over modern medicine though most members visited local health centers whenever a need arose. Knowledge of ethno-medicine was wide-spread in the community and did not appear to have been significantly impacted by formal education, Christianity or occupation but it varied by gender and among different age groups. Teaching of traditional Maasai ethno-medicine was prevalent but older members of the community felt that the younger generations generally lacked an interest in learning such traditions. The community also felt that medicinal plants harvested within the ranch had declined and attributed this to several factors including; land use changes especially introduction of agriculture, charcoal burning, over exploitation for commercial purposes, drought and increase in human population. Future research is needed to elucidate the impacts of formal education, current lifestyle changes and introduction of Christianity and Western medical care on knowledge and use of ethno-medicine. There is an urgent need to mitigate decline of locally available medicinal plant resources.
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