Four Footed Pharmacists: Indications of Self-Medicating Livestock in Karamoja, Uganda

Following observations of goats’ possible self-medication browsing the anti-parasitic plant, Albizia anthelmintica, an ethnobotanical survey was undertaken to examine whether livestock engage in other self-medicating behaviors, and if people also use the same medications. Information was gathered over a five-month period from 147 Karamojong pastoralists and healers using a checklist of questions. There were 124 observations for 50 proposed self-medicating behaviors, primarily eating plants, to treat a total of 35 disease conditions. Of the plant species, 72% were also prepared by informants to treat human or veterinary diseases. Species importance was estimated by four factors: >3 user citations, informant consensus factor >0.4, fidelity level >40% and presence in the local pharmacopoeia. Eight species fulfilled all of these factors, and 12 had at least three. These results provide support for the hypothesis that animals graze specific plants when ill and suggest that people have developed some of their knowledge through animal observation.
Animal self-medication, albizia anthelmintica, ethnoveterinary knowledge, pastoralists, zoopharmacognosy, ethnobotany, pharmacopoeia.
Gradé, J. T., Tabuti, J. R., & Van Damme, P. (2009). Four footed pharmacists: indications of self-medicating livestock in Karamja, Uganda. Economic Botany, 63(1), 29-42.