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An ethnobotanical study was conducted from October 2005 to June 2006 to investigate the …

Biology Articles » Ethnobiology » Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by people in Zegie Peninsula, Northwestern Ethiopia » Methods

- Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by people in Zegie Peninsula, Northwestern Ethiopia

Description of the Study Area

Zegie Peninsula (11° 43' N, 37° 20' E) is located at 600 km northwest of Addis Ababa in the country's northwest highlands, at an altitude of approximately 1800 meters. It is partly surrounded by Lake Tana, which is the largest lake in Ethiopia and the source of the Blue Nile. Zegie Peninsula is about three hours motorboat drive or 37 km on land from Bahir Dar, the capital city of Amahra Regional State (Fig. 1). The residents are Amahra people and speak the country's official language Amharic. Tankwas (papyrus boats) of ancient design, manufactured on the shores of Lake Tana, are the alternative forms of transport for the local people between Zegie and Bahir Dar. There are seven monasteries on the peninsula from the 16th and 17th century. Ura Kidane Mhret, one of the monasteries, houses myriads of treasures, beautiful mural paintings, icons, scrolls and thousand-year-old manuscriptsas well as crowns and dresses from Ethiopian Emperors. During the study time, there were no modern health facilities in the area. The main occupation of the people is fishing, and coffee plantation. Until recently, there was no farming practice because the monasteries in the peninsula had forbidden the use of any type of draft animal for farming. Nevertheless, currently, the people have started farming and clearing the forest for agricultural purposes and this may affect the natural habitats of some of the medicinal plants.

Survey on the Use of Medicinal Plants

The ethnobotanical surveys were carried out from October 2005 to June 2006 using semistructured questionnaire [17] and interview was conducted in Amharic. Prior to the administration of the questionnaire, conversations with the informants were held with the assistance of local Farmers' Association representative to elaborate the objective of the study and to build on trust with the common goal to document and preserve the knowledge on medicinal plants. Two hundred informants were interviewed out of about 2855 inhabitants (1,338 females and 1517 males) of the Zegie peninsula (unpublished data, Bahir Dar Zuria Woreda Administration), these included 130 males and 70 females. Of which, six were male local healers (the only ones found on the peninsula). The female informants' age ranges from 30 to 85 years and the mean age is 51 years, and the male informants' age ranges from 30 to 93 years and the mean age is 64 years. The informants, except the healers, were selected randomly and no appointment was made prior to the visits. They were asked to give their knowledge about the plants they use against a disease, plant parts harvested, method of preparation of the remedy, details of administration and the dosage. Specimens of the reported medicinal plants were collected during regular systematic walk in the fields and identified by specialists at the Aklilu Lemma Institute of Pathobiology and the National Herbarium of Addis Ababa University following the Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea [18-21]. Voucher specimens were deposited at the Herbarium of Aklilu Lemma Institute of Pathobiology, Addis Ababa University.

Data Analysis

The reported aliments were grouped into 10 categories based on the information gathered from the interviewees. The categories were: evil eye and 'satan beshita' (devil sickness), external injuries and parasites infections, gastrointestinal disorder and parasites infections, 'mich' (febrile disease characterized by fever, headache, sweating, Herpes labialis, and muscle spasm) and febrile diseases, rabies and internal disease, respiratory and throat infections, sensorial disease, snake bite, swelling (non-infectious or infectious swelling) and cancer, and venereal disease and impotence. Informant consensus factor (ICF) was calculated for each category of aliments to identify the agreements of the informants on the reported cures for the group of aliments. ICF was calculated as follows: number of use citations in each category (nur) minus the number of species used (nt), divided by the number of use citations in each category minus one [22].


The fidelity level (FL), the percentage of informants claiming the use of a certain plant for the same major purpose, was calculated for the most frequently reported diseases or ailments as:


Where Np is the number of informants that claim a use of a plant species to treat a particular disease, and N is the number of informants that use the plants as a medicine to treat any given disease [23]. These two methods are helpful in the selection of plants for further studies.

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