Maasai-Mara Ethnobotany

What: The Maasai-Mara Ethnobotany project will inventory the medicinal uses of local plant species in the Maasai-Mara region and evaluate how important they are to local lively-hoods. In particular the project will look into whether local knowledge about medicinal plants is stable in the population or whether it is being eroded in conjunction with the cultural changes going on in the area.

How: Together with Ms Jedidah Simantoi, Maasai Mara University and film producer Anton Gammelgaard (AG), Storywise the applicant will spend one week in the area interviewing key persons, who will later be involved in finding informants and important local contacts for the study. The key persons include David Noosaron who is a local landowner and Joseph Nabaala, the local Chief will be contacted. During our visit we will locate suitable villages and make preliminary interviews. All will be documented with photographs and video.

Why: Documenting the ethnobotanical knowledge in the area is important for the cultural self-esteem, and also on a more practical note it will be the base for future use of local medicines as an alternative to expensive biomedical treatment.

When: We plan to visit Maasai-Mara in the period 15-22 August 2016.

What’s next: This seed will in the first place result in a full fledged proposal for a Maasai-Mara Ethnobotany research proposal to funding for a three-year, 3 mio dkk project. Within that project we expect to have a high degree of participatory research about local knowledge regarding uses of local plants for medicine.

Key references: J. Waithaka, African Journal of Range & Forage Science 21(2): 79–88 (2004). 2Bussmann et al., Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2: 22 (2006). 3 Maundu et al. People and Plants Working, Paper 8, Unesco, Paris (2001). N. Nicholson, Journal of Management Inquiry 14(3): 255–267 (2005). Gruca et al., Journal of Ethnopharmacology 155: 1388–1392 (2014). 6Heinrich et al., Journal of Ethnopharmacology 124: 1–17 (2009). 7A. Garibaldi and N. Turner, Ecology and Society 9(3): 1 (2004).

Project manager: Professor Henrik Balslev, Aarhus University

Project participants:

  • Ms Jedidah Simantoi, Maasai Mara University
  • Film producer Anton Gammelgaard, Storywise
  • David Noosaron
  • Joseph Nabaala
  • Karen Blixen Camp

Preliminary project result

A documentary film has been produced as a pilot project. Read more and watch the film here