Saving ‘Mukombero'(Mondia Whitei) from extinction in Kakamega

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The craving for the climber tree(Mukombero), scientifically known as Mondia Whitei, communities in western Kenya is participating in unregulated harvesting. This has almost decimated the once exuberant plant, prompting researchers to intervene.

Demand for ‘mukombero’ has led villagers in Kakamega East Sub-County to sneak into the forest and harvest the plant before going to busy market centers to supply fresh herbs.

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Mr. Silvester Mambili, a leader of the Group Forest Associations in Western Conservancy, said traders from Nairobi and Mombasa typically travel to Shinyalu in Kakamega County to purchase large quantities of roots for powder processing.

“Mukombero from Kakamega Forest is very sweet, with a good chewed taste. This attracted people from as far as Mombasa, Nairobi, and central Kenya to come and buy herbal roots,” said Mr. Mambili.

The powder is also used as a spice in tea, porridge, and other beverages.

Efforts to save ‘mukombero’ from extinction are being organized by the Sustainable Land Management/Sustainable Forest Management initiative.

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The group is working closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service in the campaign to rehabilitate and conserve the forest. They have distributed seedlings for ‘mukombero’ and other indigenous plants with medicinal value for planting.

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