Ethnoveterinary plants and practices used for ecto-parasite control in semi-arid smallholder farming areas of Zimbabwe
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2015, 11:30 doi:10.1186/s13002-015-0006-6
Published: 30 April 2015
Published: 30 April 2015
Background The inclusion of traditional plant-based ecto-parasite control methods in primary health care of livestock is increasingly becoming an important intervention for improving livestock productivity in resource-challenged smallholder farming areas. In this study, commonly used plants used for the control of cattle ticks and other pests were identified through a survey in four semi–arid districts of Zimbabwe. Methods A standard structured questionnaire with details of demographics, socioeconomic status of households, livestock parasites, control practices and list of ethnoveterinary plants used was used to interview 233 knowledgeable smallholder farmers in four districts. Focus group discussions with community members further provided insights on how the plants were being used and other issues surrounding ecto-parasite control and indigenous knowledge systems in the study areas. Results It was mostly, the older generation (>40 years) of the respondents who were knowledgeable about ethnoveterinary plants and practices. A total of 51 plant species were reported as being effective against cattle ticks and other livestock parasites. The top four popular plants by frequency of mention were, in descending order, Cissus quadrangularis (30.1 %), Lippia javanica (19.6 %), Psydrax livida (14.9 %) and Aloe sp (14.9%). Most of the plant materials were prepared by crushing and soaking the fresh leaves/bark in water and spraying the extract on animals. Despite the knowledge of these useful pesticidal plants, the preferred animal health care for cattle and other highly ranked livestock species is still the use of commercial acaricides. Traditional knowledge and plants are considered only as an alternative in the absence of conventional synthetic products. Conclusions There are a variety of plants species that communities know of that can be used for livestock parasite control. However, the plant species are mostly used to complement commercial products when they are easily accessible. More work, is required to confirm the acaricidal properties claimed by the farmers in order to optimize and promote sustainable use of these plants.