Original Research

An inventory of medicinal plants traded on the western boundary of the Kruger National Park, South Africa

J. Botha, E.T.F. Witkowski, C.M. Shackleton
Koedoe | Vol 44, No 2 | a172 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v44i2.172 | © 2001 J. Botha, E.T.F. Witkowski, C.M. Shackleton | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 July 2001 | Published: 01 July 2001

About the author(s)

J. Botha,, South Africa
E.T.F. Witkowski, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
C.M. Shackleton, Rhodes University, South Africa

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The World Health Organisation estimates that traditional medicine still plays a vital role in the lives of 70-80 of the populations of developing countries. Approximately 20 000 tons of medicinal plants are estimated to be traded in South Africa annually, resulting in considerable pressure on the wild populations from which these plants are harvested. In 1997, a study was initiated to assess the extent of trade in medicinal plants on the western boundary of the Kruger National Park, and to determine local perceptions of the availability and values of these plants. This paper presents an inventory of the species traded, including vendors' and traders' perceptions of current availability of species and consumer demand, as well as price/kg. In Mpumalanga, 176 species were identified (71 of the vernacular names encountered in the market place), representing 69 families. In Northern Province, 70 different species were identified (84 of the ver-nacular names recorded in the markets), representing 40 families. Perceptions of availability of a species varied considerably, often within the same markets. Perceptions of demand tended to be more consistent, although these also sometimes varied. Although monitoring markets is an efficient means of assessing the conservation status of medicinal plants, it is important to select appropriate parameters. Markets often differ from one another, and an understanding of local conditions is crucial. For example, in the medicinal markets on the western boundary of the Kruger National Park, price/kg and market perceptions of availability of species were highly variable and would thus not provide a consistent monitoring parameter. Perceptions of demand provide an indication of current and potential pressure on a species, particularly when combined with the monitoring of species traded, and the introduction of substitutes in the market place. The size of plant parts traded could also provide useful monitoring data. It is important to identify the plants utilised locally first hand where possible, due to the variation of vernacular names from one area to another.


community based natural resource management, medicinal plant trade, inventory.


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Crossref Citations

1. Assessing African medicinal plants for efficacy and safety: pharmacological screening and toxicology
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doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2004.05.012