Threatened medicinal and economic plants of the Sudan Savanna in Katsina State, northwestern Nigeria
Keywords:Conservation, endangered species, Hausa community, IUCN, threat categories, Nigeria, Sudan Savanna
Background: The loss of biodiversity in Nigeria is escalating alarmingly. However, there is generally a paucity of information as to what taxa are endangered because of a dearth of functioning conservation agencies in Nigeria.
Objectives: The aim of this research is to record the endangered medicinal and other economic plant species in the Sudan Savanna vegetation in Katsina and to provide an assessment of the various threats faced by these plants.
Method: Medicinal plants were identified through oral interviews with traditional medical practitioners within the study area. Conservation statuses were assessed using a bespoke data collection and assessment form; the data were then evaluated using the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List categories and criteria.
Results: A total of 169 species belonging to 62 families were recorded. Of these, 43 taxa were reported to be used for ethnomedicinal practices. It was found that more than half (108) of the 169 species were threatened with extinction and one taxon (Xeroderris stuhlmannii [Taub.] Mendonca & Sousa) qualifies as being Extinct locally. Threats recorded include overexploitation (24%), agriculture (15%), deforestation and desertification (12% each), invasive plants (11%), urban residential development (7%) and erosion (6%).
Conclusion: Most of the plants are already under threat and require urgent conservation measures. The data point to the critical need for further research into conservation strategies and a more sustainable use of threatened plants. We recommend that the Nigerian government should establish a national Red List agency and ensure effective protected area management and community-based natural resources management.