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Ethnopharmacological practices by livestock farmers in Uganda: Survey experiences from Mpigi and Gulu districts

Immaculate Nabukenya13*, Chris Rubaire-Akiiki1, Deogracious Olila1, Kokas Ikwap1 and Johan Höglund2

Author Affiliations

1 College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity, Makerere University, P. O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda

2 Department of Biomedical Sciences and Veterinary Public Health, Section for Parasitology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, P. O. Box 7063, Uppsala, Sweden

3 Department of Biosecurity, Ecosystems and Veterinary Public Health, P. O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda

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Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2014, 10:9  doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-9

Published: 27 January 2014



There is continued reliance on conventional veterinary drugs including anthelmintics, to some of which resistance has developed. Loss of indigenous technical knowledge (ITK) from societies affects the opportunities for utilization of ethnopharmacological practices unless properly documented. This study was conducted to identify common traditional practices using medicinal plants against helminthosis and other livestock diseases in Mpigi and Gulu districts of Uganda.


Seven focus group discussions with ten farmers per group plus 18 key informant interviews were held in each district from August to November 2011. Ranking was used to quantify disease burdens and to identify priority livestock and breeds. Samples of each plant were submitted to Makerere University herbarium for identification and documentation. The local name, relative availability and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status were recorded.


Seventy six farmers in Mpigi and 74 in Gulu were interviewed. Theileriosis and helminthosis were the most common disease conditions in cattle and goats, respectively. Forty plant species within 34 genera from 22 botanical families were identified, with 20 of these used against helminthosis. Other plants treated wounds and ecto-parasites, theileriosis, retained placenta and bovine ephemeral fever. Non-plant practices (7) and plants cited were used in combination depending on availability. Males older than 40 years had most ethnopharmacological knowledge. Most plants (75%, n = 40) were common, but 10 were rare. IUCN status was not evaluated for 95% of these plants. Conventional and traditional drug use in Gulu and Mpigi districts was different (χ2 = 24; p < 0.001). The scientific, English, Luganda and Acholi names of all plants and their availability within the communities are documented herein.


This is the first detailed livestock-related ethnopharmacological study in Gulu district. Farmers in Uganda are still using a variety of practices to treat livestock ailments. Scientific validation and evaluation of conservation status are urgently needed to ensure future availability and knowledge about these plant resources.

Ethnopharmacological practices; Herbarium; ITK; Plants; Medicine; Helminthosis; Conservation