The Utilisation and Conservation of Indigenous Medicinal Plants in Selected Areas in Baringo County, Kenya
Rotich, Carol Jeruto
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There is a growing demand for indigenous medicinal plants and an increasing interest in their use among Kenyans who depend on them for one use or another. The study was conducted with the main objective to determine the utilization and conservation of indigenous medicinal plants in Koipirir, Ilchurai and Ikumae in Baringo County. The specific objectives were to assess the composition and abundance of the common Indigenous Medicinal Plants in the study areas, to find out the diversity and evenness of Indigenous Medicinal Plants (IMPs) in the study areas, to determine the modes of utilization and harvesting of Indigenous Medicinal Plants among the rural communities in the study area and to find out the conservation measures in place to conserve Indigenous Medicinal Plants among the rural communities in Baringo County. Primary data were collected through the use of semi-structured and structured questionnaires which were administered to 96 households, 12 herbalists and 4 key informants. This was supplemented by regular field visits, site visits and personal observations. Transects and quadrats were also used to find out the composition, evenness and diversity of the locally utilized medicinal plants in the study area. Data obtained from the questionnaires were subjected and analyzed using SPSS version 20. Data on species abundance were analyzed using Biodiversity Calculator Index while Eveness and Divesity were analyzed using Shannon Weiner Index. The results showed that 84% of the respondents preferred Indigenous Medicinal Plants as means of treatment while only 16% preferred modern medicine. Balanites aegyptiaca (26.26%), Acacia nilotica (17.68%) and Balanites aegyptiaca (15.80%) were abundant in Koipirir, Ilchurai and Ikumae respectively. Ikumae had high species diversity (H'2.698) and evenness (0.849), as compared to Koipirir (H'2.447) and (E 0.769) and Ilchurai (H'2.511) and (E 0.7901). Despite the different modes of utilization of the locally available IMPs in the study areas, there was no correlation that was significant at (0.05) levels except between Utilization of IMPs as medicine and construction purposes which was (0.207). Out of the 24 species identified, locally endangered species were recorded when the respondents indicated that they do not harvest nor utilize the species at all, though it was utilized before. These included the Azadirachta indica and Vepris simplicifolia which was totally absent in Ikumae, Ximenia americana and Solanum aculeastrum were totally absent in Ilchurai while Albizia anthelmintica, Cussonia holstii, Leonotis nepetifolia and Senna didymobotrya were rarely found according to the study. Animal grazing, firewood collection, herbs collection, placing beehives and gathering fruits were being carried out in the conservation areas which are the natural habitats of the IMPs thus leading to IMPs destruction. Therefore the study concludes that the locals should be educated to create awareness on conservation in the study area so as to ensure sustainable use and conservation of the Indigenous Medicinal Plants.