Writes; Tshepo Heqoa
Numerous types of aloe are found in Lesotho, such as; Aloe polyphylla, Aloe ferox, and Aloe striatula and many more. Most of these indigenous plants possess within themselves invaluable medicinal properties that the world can hardly ever fathom. Such peculiarities are left untold while many, even close relatives are fading away in health daily amidst a legacy we should all protect and propagate.
Aloe ferox is one of the most endangered plant species endemic to Lesotho which is protected by law, but sadly not enforced. A distinctive lofty arrangement of its anatomy, gives it its peculiar symmetrical appearance. The health properties associated with this herb are wonderful yet many know little about it.
Aloe ferox has been used for centuries in Africa with great benefits for colon health. It has even been reported to exhibit therapeutic properties that aid in wound healing and arthritis treatment.
In 2005, researchers from the University of Fort Hare in Alice, South Africa, published a report in the journal Pharmaceutical Biology indicating that compounds from the aloe ferox sap have antimicrobial properties used for treating sexually transmitted infections (STI). Further study in 2008 by L. Kambizi was published in the African Journal of ‘Biotechnology evaluated extracts from aloe ferox for activity against six strains of gonorrhoea.’ Evidence of activity against gonorrhoea was observed.
The majority of diseases which the human family have been and still are suffering from, are created by ignorance of their own organic laws. We seem indifferent in regard to the matter of health, and work perseveringly to tear ourselves to pieces, and when broken down and debilitated in body and mind, we send for the doctor and drug themselves to death.
Physical life is not to be treated in a haphazard manner. Every organ, every fibre of the being, is to be sacredly guarded from harmful practices. There are divinely appointed rules and ways which if observed will keep us from disease and premature death.
Lesotho has therefore become an inspiring arsenal of such impressive herbs. The majestic view they provide throughout the terrains of our beautiful country fill hearts with endless awe and joy. Nonetheless, a few number of challenges envelop the free growth of the mentioned species of aloe. It can be identified that a number of gaps do exist with respect to knowledge, understanding and the conservation of our country’s biodiversity. Biodiversity loss is a not only a concern to the pastoralists, farmers, traditional healers (medicine-men and herbalists), fuel wood gatherers, but also to the ecologists, conservationists and the Government.
Soil erosion, Climate change, human action and a few instances of animal action have been witnessed as major threats towards the extinction of our rare local commodity. Several gullies are developing in places where aloe forex once tenanted thus diminishing the wonderful impress our country might one day tell as a passing tale.
A great need for conservation cannot be lightly esteemed. Millions of people are dying who might otherwise be restored to health. Health is a treasure. Of all our temporal possessions it is the most precious. Wealth, learning, and honour are dearly purchased at the loss of the vigour of health. None of these can secure happiness, if health is lacking. It is a terrible sin to abuse the health that God has given us; such abuses enfeeble us for life, and make us losers, even if we gain by such means any amount of education.
God has bountifully provided for the sustenance and happiness of all His creatures; if His laws were never violated, if all acted in harmony with the divine will, health, peace, and happiness, instead of misery and continual evil, would be the result.
With the climate chance challenges and serious poverty threshold in the Mountain Kingdom, Lesotho is left with very little options namely to work on its land tenure and use its land optimally. It does not really harm but to think outside the box. Considering some of the crops like aloe which takes long time, needs serious private investment initiative not communal or state owned.
Instead of the donated foreign hazardous forests that are causing serious soil erosion in communal land. Lesotho could reclaim the countless dongas and turn it in to productive land.