Conservation, phenology and ethnobotany of some lowland species of the genus sansevierla thunb: case of Taita Taveta and Malindi districts, Kenya
Mboga, Timon Otieno
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Many world governments, NGO's and researchers have raised concern on the sustainable utilisation of indigenous plants. It is against this background that this study was undertaken to try and establish the current phenological patterns, ethnobotany, threats to conservation and possible conservation measures of selected lowland Sansevieria plants in Taita Taveta and Malindi districts, Kenya. The genus Sansevieria Thunb, has about 19 recognised species in Kenya of which 8 are endemic. The species are fast disappearing hence becoming endangered since they grow in marginal areas, which are experiencing serious problems of overgrazing, climatic change, increasing human population and depletion of natural resources. Systematic sampling was used in selecting quadrats for phenological observations. Cluster sampling was used to select regions for studies on uses and conservation of Sansevieria plants. Structured interviews, questionnaires, direct observations, measurements and Focussed Group Discussions were used to collect data. Data was analysed using MANN-WHITNEY (U) ranking test and presented in frequencies, percentages, tables and graphs at a 0.05 level of significance. The study revealed that lowland Sansevieria plants have clear phenological patterns as exhibited in their leaf growth, budding, flowering, fruiting and seeding. It was also noted that communities living in rangelands use the plants for social-economic and cultural values such as weaving, medicine, fencing, fodder and keeping a way evil spirits. Wild animals, on the other hand, consume the succulent plants. As a result, there has been a considerable reduction in the cover status of these indigenous plants. The results also indicate existing poor management of indigenous plants, mainly due to failure in the enforcement of the already set down regulations on conservation. The lowland Sansevieria plants have been highly degraded due to destruction of its habitat by both man and wildlife. It is likely that efforts at the national or local level can save the rangelands even though pressures behind its accelerated destruction continue to intensify. Timely grass root action by fully involving the community can help preserve the indigenous Sansevieria plants for future generations and this will provide a model for community-based rangelands conservation in other areas of Kenya. The study calls for a well co-ordinated multi-use conservation and management strategy involving the participation of all stakeholders. There is also need to harmonise different conservation strategies so as to avoid conflicts and duplication of duties. These results will be used by the community, policy makers, development agencies, conservationists, ethnobotanists and anthropologists in effective use and conservation of indigenous lowland Sansevieria plants. The findings will enhance knowledge on the use of indigenous Sansevieria plants by providing a baseline data for pharmaceutical prospecting.