Assessment of traditional ecological knowledge and beliefs in the utilisation of important plant species: The case of Buhanga sacred forest, Rwanda
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Traditional ecological knowledge is an integrated part of the African people and indeed the Rwandese for cultural purpose. Buhanga sacred forest is a relict forest of tremendous ecologica I importance to Rwandan society located in Musanze District. The aim of this study was to assess the traditional ecological knowledge and belief in the utilisation of some important plant species for the conservation of Buhanga sacred forest. Ecological information about ethnomedicina I and traditional practices were collected following structured questionnaire through interview involving eight traditional healers and three focus group discussions. Data were collected from the natural habitats, home gardens, farmlands and roadsides of Buhanga sacred forest. A total of 45 botanical taxa belonging to 28 families were reported to be used by the I oca I community. Species such as Hiallantaisia cicatricoso and Serra septeuttrionalis were the popular species cited by traditional healers to treat hum an and an im a I diseases and ailments, respectively. The results of the study indicated that because of the cultural norms and values associated with the sacred forest, this has led to non-exploitation. The study presents key sites and plant species in which their use and belief can lead to their conservation. However, not only is it imperative to conserve traditional local knowledge for biocultural conservation motives but there is also need to train traditional healers on how to domesticate indigenous species as conservation measure because sonic species have become susceptible to extinction.
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