19 January 2007

Uganda: Chimps Eat Herbs to Cure Malaria - Expert

Kampala — CHIMPANZEES eat plants similar to the ones used by traditional healers to treat malaria and diarrhoea, researchers have said.

Sabrina Krief, a researcher at Kibale National Park said: "The chimps and human beings around Kibale use similar plants to overcome sickness."

She was speaking at Makerere University's Faculty of Science at the launch a memorandum of cooperation between the university, the Uganda Wildlife Authority and French institutions.

In her five-year research at Kanyawara research station at the edge of Kibale, Krief found that chimps carefully select plants like mululuza, that do not have nutritive value but have medicinal properties that help them overcome malaria, diarrhoea and expel worms from their intestines. Her research included analysing the dung and urine of the chimps.

She also monitored the chimps' behaviour to find out if there was an improvement when sick chimps ate the plants.

"It was stunning to see that traditional healers use the same plants to treat the diseases. Studies on great apes, the closest relatives to humans, will help us discover plants with medicinal properties."

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