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      A survey of plants and plant products traditionally used in livestock health management in Buuri district, Meru County, Kenya


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          Up till now, nomadic communities in Africa have been the primary focus of ethnoveterinary research. Although mainly arable and/or mixed arable/pastoral farmers, Ameru of central Kenya are known to have a rich history of ethnoveterinary knowledge. Their collective and accumulative ethnoveterinary knowledge (EVK) is likely to be just as rich and worth documenting. The aim of the study was to document and analyse the ethnoveterinary knowledge of the Ameru.


          Non-alienating, dialogic, participatory action research (PAR) and participatory rural appraisal (PRA) approaches involving 21 women and men aged between 50 and 79 years old were utilized. A combination of snowball and purposive sampling methods were used to select 21 key respondents. The methods comprised a set of triangulation approach needed in EVK for non-experimental validation of ethnoknowledge of the Ameru.


          A total of 48 plant species distributed in 26 families were documented with details of diseases/ill-health conditions, parts of plants used and form of preparation and administration methods applied to different animal groups. Of these families, Fabaceae had the highest number of species (16.67%), followed by Solanaceae (12.5%), Asteraceae and Euphorbiacea (each comprising 8.33%), Lamiaceae (6.25%), Apocynaceae and Boraginaceae (each comprising 4.17%), while the rest of the 19 families, each was represented by a single plant species. About 30 livestock diseases/ill-health conditions were described, each treated by at least one of the 48 plant species. Most prevalent diseases/ill-health conditions included: - anaplasmosis, diarrhea, East Coast fever, pneumonia, helminthiasis, general weakness and skin diseases involving wounds caused by ectoparasites.


          The study showed that there was a rich knowledge and ethnopractices for traditional animal healthcare amongst the Ameru. This study therefore provides some groundwork for elucidating the efficacy of some of these plants, plant products and ethnopractices in managing livestock health as further research may lead to discovery of useful ethnopharmaceutical agents applicable in livestock industry.

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          Most cited references 17

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          Sampling and Estimation in Hidden Populations Using Respondent-Driven Sampling

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            Medicinal plants in Mexico: healers' consensus and cultural importance.

            Medicinal plants are an important element of indigenous medical systems in Mexico. These resources are usually regarded as part of a culture's traditional knowledge. This study examines the use of medicinal plants in four indigenous groups of Mexican Indians, Maya, Nahua, Zapotec and - for comparative purposes - Mixe. With the first three the methodology was similar, making a direct comparison of the results possible. In these studies, the relative importance of a medicinal plant within a culture is documented using a quantitative method. For the analysis the uses were grouped into 9-10 categories of indigenous uses. This report compares these data and uses the concept of informant consensus originally developed by Trotter and Logan for analysis. This indicates how homogenous the ethnobotanical information is. Generally the factor is high for gastrointestinal illnesses and for culture bound syndromes. While the species used by the 3 indigenous groups vary, the data indicate that there exist well-defined criteria specific for each culture which lead to the selection of a plant as a medicine. A large number of species are used for gastrointestinal illnesses by two or more of the indigenous groups. At least in this case, the multiple transfer of species and their uses within Mexico seems to be an important reason for the widespread use of a species. Medicinal plants in other categories (e.g. skin diseases) are usually known only in one culture and seem to be part of its traditional knowledge.
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              Plant bioactives for ruminant health and productivity.

              Plants have been used throughout history for their medicinal properties. This use has often focused on human health but plants have also been, and still are, applied in ethnoveterinary practice and animal health management. In recent times, the use of synthetic chemicals has become prevalent. Public awareness of the potential environmental and health risks associated with heavy chemical use has also increased. This has put pressure on regulatory bodies to reduce the use of chemicals in agriculture. The most striking example is the 2006 banning of antibiotics in animal feed by the European Union. Moves such as this have increased the drive to find alternatives to synthetic chemicals and research has again turned to the use of plant bioactives as a means of improving animal health. Current scientific evidence suggests there is significant potential to use plants to enhance animal health in general and that of ruminants (cattle, deer, sheep, etc.) in particular. Active areas of research for plant bioactives (particularly saponin and tannin containing plants) include reproductive efficiency, milk and meat quality improvement, foam production/bloat control and methane production. Nematode control is also a significant area of research and the evidence suggests a much broader range of phytochemicals may be effective. This review presents a summary of the literature and examines international research efforts towards the development of plant bioactives for animal health.

                Author and article information

                J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
                J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
                Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
                BioMed Central
                8 October 2012
                : 8
                : 39
                [1 ]Department of Natural Sciences, Faculty of Science, The Catholic University of Eastern Africa, P.O. Box 62157–00200, Nairobi, Kenya
                [2 ]Department of Biological Sciences, School of Pure and Applied Sciences, South Eastern University College (A Constituent College of the University of Nairobi), P.O. Box 170–90200, Kitui, Kenya
                Copyright ©2012 Gakuubi and Wanzala; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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