Ethnoveterinary and phytomedicinal practices among the Bahima community in Uganda: test of indigenous knowledge using plant anthelmintics
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Ethnoveterinary medicine has been practiced in East Africa for many years and is still being practiced though on a declining trend, and a lot of valuable information can be lost or distorted whenever a medicine man dies without revealing his/her knowledge. Due to migration, regional conflicts and urbanisation, more and more of the old knowledge is slowly getting lost and what the old/new is not valued any more. It is therefore essential to carefully study, test and document the Bahima indigenous knowledge of disease management for possible use in future as the use of indigenous medicinal plants varies from species to species, tribe to tribe, place to place, disease to disease and even person to person. The study was conducted in Nyabushozi county South-Western Uganda, consisted of a survey and an experiment, and was aimed at retrieving information on phytomedicines and ethnoveterinary practices. Participatory methods were used to retrieve the indigenous knowledge about livestock management. From the survey, a rich knowledge of ethnoveterinary practices was retrieved and a list of diseases with their characteristic clinical signs, and the medicinal plants used to treat the diseases was drawn. Livestock contribute in a major way to household food security and income. However the average livestock numbers per household have fallen in the recent past due to population pressure and increased land privatization. The main livestock production problems were lack of grazing land, lack of water, livestock diseases, persistent drought, damage by wildlife and 'unsubsidized' veterinary services. Indigenous veterinary practices are still practiced by Bahima community. An experimental trial was conducted to test the efficacy of plant anthelmintics as a measure of the value of indigenous knowledge. Phytolacca dodecandra fresh green leaves and Vernonia amygdalina fresh green leaves were compared with untreated controls and Albendazole. Sixteen 6-9 months old goats, naturally infected with gastrointestinal nematodes and were randomly distributed to four treatments. The faecal egg count reduction test (FECRT) was used to estimate the drug efficacy by comparing worm egg count from the goats pre treatment and post treatment. The egg per gram (epg) of the treated groups decreased till 21 days post treatment. The epg of the control group was steadily increasing from day zero through out the experimental period. When compared with the control, P.dodecandra significantly (p <0.01) reduced worm burden by 57% while V.amygdalina significantly (p <0.01) reduced the worm burden by 65% by 21 days post treatment. There was no significant (p>O.05) difference between the effect caused by P.dodecandra and V.amygalina presumably indicating that their active principles have the same effect on worm burden. The V. amygdalina anthelmintic effect on epg reductions closely followed that of Albendazole though significantly (p<O.Ol) different. The test showed conclusively that the plant extracts from P.dodecandra and V.amygdalina were effective in controlling Oesophagostomum spp, Haemonchus, Nematodirus, Strongyloides, Cooperia, Trychostrongylus, Bunnostomum, Trichuris and Strongylus spp. It was concluded that indigenous ethnoveterinary knowledge of livestock disease management among the Bahima community is still available. It was in addition established that the use of P.dodecandra and V. amygdalina as dewormers resulted in a tremendous reduction in worm burden.