THE GREEN VISION
NO 0004 THURSDAY OCTOBER 31, 2013
There are those, not least traditional healers (tradi-practitioners), who fear that massive indiscriminate forest exploitation will cause death of many medicinal plants. “So many plants have gone extinct. There was a plant in Sabga in the North West Region, which has many curative powers (I can’t actually recall how it was called); the Chinese discovered this plant, came and harvested it; in fact, they uprooted the plant and today we cannot find any trace of it. Today we have the ginseng plant and if you see the way it is exploited especially by the Chinese, I am scared it will go extinct in the near future if cares is not taken,” said Dr.Fru Richard, CEO/President of Garden of Eden Naturopathic Institute of West Africa based in Buea, South West. Dr.Fru told The Green Vision in an exclusive interview that they, tradi-practitioners, depend hugely on the environment as a source of elements for herbal treatment. “We gather portions from plants, animals and even soil to prepare treatments for various diseases so, if the environment is degraded, there is a high risk that the precious flora and fauna which partly constitute the environment will go extinct,” Dr.Fru said. He disclosed that plants like the Mahogany, Iroko and other small leafed plants are very effective in healing disease, hence they should be conserved. The traditional doctor cried foul at the gradual disappearance of some medicinal plants like Prunus Africana or Pigu in Cameroon and other parts of Africa while refuting allegations that they play a paramount role in the extinction of some plant species in the country. “Traditional doctors are trained to harvest plants in such a way that they do not kill trees. When we go to harvest, we peel one side of the tree, not all round making sure that we don’t wound the stem of the tree so that after one or two months on coming back, the other part of the tree must have healed itself, then we peel the other part,” Dr.Fru said. Besides blaming the Chinese for the extinction and endangerment of some medicinal plant species in the country, he cited farmers as the primary destroyers of medicinal plants. “While we tradi-practitioner knowing the importance of these plants try to conserve them, farmers set the whole forest a flame just because they want to plant yam, maize, cocoa, coffee and so on. Yet people blame us for cutting barks of trees…what a farmer does on the forest in one season, the traditional doctors in ten years cannot cause such destruction. Look how depleted the Bakundu Forest is today because of bush fires set by farmers,” Dr.Fru argued. He said they used to plant medicinal plants in gardens but called it off because they discovered that “certain forces of darkness came and destroyed their effectiveness.” “Today, we harvest from the wild and only use the gardens for research and demonstration,” Dr.Fru said. He told The Green Vision that they are aware plants are very important not only medicinally, but also in the protection of the environment such that when one plant is not there, there is some sort of imbalance. As a result, he said, they have put up a plan to establish an association for the replanting of ginseng and other medicinal plants in the country, which they view as endangered. They would organize a sensitization campaign to change the mentality of the people in favour of conservation. Regarding the geographical distribution of medicinal plants in the country, Dr.Fru said there are some plants that are endemic to some specific parts of the country like Prunus Africana, which can only be found on Mt.Cameroon, ginseng in Ndop and other part of the North West, while others like the Nimb tree can only be found in the North.