The utilizattion of medicinal plants by the Masaai community in arid lands of Kajado county, Kenya
Kinyamario, Jenesio I
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Arid and semiarid lands (ASALs) in Kenya endowed with many valuable plants used in primary healthcare in the treatment of human diseases. Medicinal plants used by local communities of ASALs in Kenya have not been well documented, despite their widespread use. The threat of complete disappearance of the knowledge on herbal medicine from factors such as deforestation, lack of proper regulation, overexploitation, land use tenure and socio-cultural issues warrants an urgent need to document the information. The purpose of the study was to document information on medicinal plants used by local Masaai community of Kajiado County in Southern Province of Kenya towards the utilization of indigenous ethnobotanical knowledge for the advancement of biomedical research and development. The aim of the study was to identify plants used as a medicine locally, document the generational traditional knowledge in using of treatment of various health problems, calculating the medicinal value (MV) and use value (UV) of the plant species by the local Masaai community and looking at the trend of these medicinal plants in the area. Structured questionnaires were prepared and administered to respondents in households located in different villages at the three study sites. A total of 96 key informants were interviewed randomly of whom 30, 34 and 32 were from Kenya Marble Quarry (KMQ), Mile 46 and Oltepesi respectively. Field experiment was also carried out through set up of a quadrat measuring 10 ×10 m within a distance of 100 m between plots in the transect erected at each sites. A total of 21 plots were set up at Mile 46 and 20 plots at each site of Kenya Marble Quarry and Oltepesi to examine the trend of the medicinal plants in the field condition. Both quantitative and qualitative statistical analysis was performed. A total of 40 useful plant species are used by the local community for medicinal purpose. The results showed that in Kenya Marble Quarry (KMQ), Acacia tortilis, A. mellifera, Balanites aegyptiaca and Commiphora africana had the highest total use value, whereas in Mile 46 site, A. tortilis, A. mellifera, Balanites aegyptiaca, A. nubica and Commiphora schimperi and in Oltepesi site, A. tortilis, A. mellifera, Salvadora persica and Balanites aegyptiaca had the highest total use value. In regard to medicinal value of the surveyed species, A. mellifera, A. tortilis, Commiphora africana and Commiphora schimperi were the top most species used by the local people for medicinal purpose in KMQ site while A. tortilis, A. nubica, Commiphora schimperi, A. mellifera and Balanites aegyptiaca were used by the community in Mile 46 for the treatment of different diseases. A. mellifera, A. tortilis and Salvadora persica were highly used as medicine for the treatment in Oltepesi site. It is concluded that Masaai community in central Kajiado heavily relies on medicinal plants for primary health care and these plants are also used for other different purposes. The research sites were dominated by few medicinal plant species which would imply overutilization of the other species.
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