Disappearing medicinal plants in Mt. Kenya forests , Kenya: a case study of East African green heart ( Warburgia ugandensis sprague)
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Natural disturbances and human activities are significantly affecting indigenous trees species in forests. Warburgia ugandensis is a plant highly valued for its medicinal properties, timber and fuel among other uses. Many rural communities use it as a remedy for a number of ailments. Investigations into the value of its chemical content reveal that it has antibiotic, antifungal, anti inflammatory and antiseptic effects. W. ugandensis has been rated as the second highest medicinal plant after Prunus africana. However its population has been affected by human activities, climatic effects and pests. The objective of this study is to investigate the threats of W. ugandensis in Mt. Kenya forests. The study was conducted in dry montane potential natural vegetation type forests in the North West of Mt. Kenya forest. Eighteen subplots of 625 m2 each were used to sample number of debarked trees, stumps and other types of damages. Causes of threat were identified as human, wildlife, livestock and pests. Data was analyzed by general linear models (GLM) using SPSS 11.0 (2001) statistical software and Student Newman Keuls (S-N-K) at 5% significance level. Human activities caused the highest amount of threats while debarking was the most damaging form of threat. The findings of this study are important for sustainable utilization, management and conservation of the remnants of W. ugandensis in the forest and farm lands.