Background: Despite the increasing use of modern veterinary services to cater for livestock healthcare needs, traditional remedy remains a prominent complementary medical practice yet inadequately documented. This is especially so in areas of rural Tanzania where livestock diseases are rampant and modern veterinary services are insufficiently provided. This study, therefore, aims to understand and document the indigenous knowledge associated with the use ethnoveterinary plants in curing livestock ailments in the northern Tanzania.
Methods: Ethnobotanical data from livestock keepers were collected through structured and semi structured interviews. A total of 161 informants were selected from Hai, Moshi, Siha and Meru districts in northern Tanzania using snowball sampling technique. The fidelity level, frequency index, and informant consensus factor ere estimated from the data.
Results: We found a total of 54 ethnoveterinary plants belonging to 51 genera and 35 families used to treat 34 kinds of livestock ailments. About 59% of all medicinal plants examined during this study were extracted from the leaves, mainly prepared in crushed form – infusions (29%) and administered orally (77%). Further results show that 77.1% of the formulations were prepared by plant materials obtained from a single species while 22.9% were prepared from different species. Aloe vera (L.) Burm, and Aloe volkensii Engl. scored the highest frequency indices (40.5 each) for 2 treating Newcastle in poultry, and anti-diarrhoea in cattle, respectively. The highest fidelity levels were found in Capsicum frutescens L. (100) and Kigelia Africana L. (100) both responsible for treating Newcastle in Chicken, and Ficus sycomorus (Lam.) Benth (100) for relieving birth complications in cattle. Newcastle and respiratory ailment categories had the highest informant consensus factor value of 0.92 with 103 use-reports, referring to the use of nine plant species.
Conclusions: The high use of such ethnoveterinary plant in treating livestock ailments highlights their veterinary importance and the need for government support for initiatives aimed at preserving this knowledge as an alternative healthcare practice for livestock in rural Tanzania.