Dr Jackson undertook an expedition to Malawi, arriving in Lilongwe the Capital and meeting with Chris Dohse from Treecrops (http://www.treecropsmw.com/) a local company aiming to promote the health and nutritional benefits of indigenous Malawian plant crops. It was on this expedition that after 20 years of researching Kigelia, Dr Jackson first saw the tree in its native habitat, which just happened to be in the back garden at treecrops offices!
Dr Jackson also travelled to the Nidi-Moyo centre, set up by Lucy and Tony Finch in Salima, a palliative care centre for patients with HIV and Cancer again using natural products alongside Western medicine, and running workshops for medical professionals to understand the medicinal benefits of using natural products in palliative care.
He then went on to meet ‘Anamed’ (http://www.anamed.net/) a German NGO who are working to provide natural product primary healthcare to a population unable to afford Western medication (main areas of treatment are with HIV and Malarial infections) They have an amazing programme growing Artemisia a source of artemisin for control of Malaria symptoms. Whilst in Malawi, the supply chain was secured for the Baobab extracts and a source of Kigelia.
Dr Jackson took the local water taxi complete with fishermen over to Muvunguti village in search of the Kigelia tree
Each dusk the villagers bring their harvest back to the waterfront to sell their catch, a agreat meeting place for all the locals
The sounds and sights and smells of the fishing village was truly magical
It was in Malawi that we first caught sight of the Kigelia fruit in its native habitat
In the markets of Lilongwe you can find piles of baobab fruit for sale
Treecrops is based in Lilongwe in Malawi, they work with rural communities to harvest wild crops in the forests of Malawi
Chris is the MD for Treecrops, such a knowledge base, a forrester by trade, but now the source of many natural products
Lucy Finch was a nurse in the UK, but moved back to her native Malawi and set up a health centre which specilaises in natural product complementary medicine.
Nelson Moyo works with Anamed and they make simple plant based health drinks to give to patients with severe low immune systems
We can never pass up a dog to play with especially when its two Rhodesian Ridgebacks
This is a fresh baobab fruit, often taken at breakfast with some water or milk in the form of a drink (a natural multivitamin)
Baobab is high in pectins and makes a perfect jam, similar taste to mixed fruits, here is one that’s made by the Chinguni's womens club
One of the most amazing sights was in the markets, to see the perfectly washed and neatly stacked fruits and vegetables
The smells were amazing as you can imagine but the effort taken to display the wares was amazing, fish is often used as a source of protein in Malawi
Believe it or not this is a tincture of Artemesia containing artemisin, which is a natural anti-malarial, just so happens to be in an old bottle of whisky
Atemisin, again not a native to Africa, is grown in the gardens of the clinics, and given in daily sachets to patients who are showing symptoms of malaria
Perfect for the open road!
Once cut the Kigelia is a pale yellow colour, notice the brighter yellow colour in the outer layer of the fruit, this quickly turns brown as it oxidises
Lake Malawi was like an Ocean vast in size
Here is nelson Moyo showing th elocal health workers how to irrigate the Artemisia plants with an old fertilizer bag, and a simple pieve of hose.
A whole stoack of Kigelia fruit
Dr Jackson and Nelson Moyo from Anamed
Dr Jackson got his first taste of living in a Primary rainforest, and loved it…. Back in 1992 as part of his undergraduate degree and alongside several of his fellow students and lecturers he undertook an expedition to Sumba, to study the rainforest architecture and speciation of rainforest plants. It was working alongside the ICBP(International Council for Bird Preservation) now known as Birdlife international (http://www.birdlife.org/) and their expedition studying the Sumbanese green pigeon, that he got his first taste of how traditional cultures use plants as medicines. It was this expedition that won a BP nature award for the set up of one of the Worlds first Nature reserves in a primary rainforest.
Whilst in Indonesia he had the privilege to visit the Herbarium at Bogor and meet Professor Kostermans (http://www.nationaalherbarium.nl/fmcollectors/k/KostermansAJGH.htm) , one amazing character, together with his staff was responsible for the collection of over 2Million different plant species, found in five thousand forests spread out over 3,000 Islands of the Indonesian archipelago, he has now since passed away, but it was Prof Kostermans that inspired Dr Jackson to study the medicinal effects of plants, before it was too late… Dr Jackson recollects an amazing afternoon spent with Prof Kostermans in his study, who as with all Dutch in those times was taken as a Prisoner of War, and was sent to Thailand to work on the infamous Burma railroad, amongst other illnesses and experiences, he described how he made a still out of bones to make illegal alcohol, he also overcame deadly gangrene using medicinal plants he found alongside the railroad, and this in turn inspired him to identify medicinal plants, His love of nature was born!
It was a while ago, but yes Dr Jackson did have long hair… and lots of it!
The houses in Sumba are long houses, the whole familly lives together, and the tall structure in the middle is for smoking and preserving meat.
One of the quickest ways to get across country was by this old truck, it managed to get the whole expedition team across country.
A great way to see the countryside.
A small clip from the Daily Express,we were one of the first rainforest conservation programmes
So heres the butterfly team counting the number of endemic butterfly species
The chief of the village was always looking to show of his dagger and his indigo ikat
One of the most lasting memories is the primary rainforest, for as far as you can see.
Protein is quite a scarce commodity in the rainforest, so goat meat on a skewer was a welcome feast.
One of the nicest ways to spend an afternoon was with the primates team studying monkeys in the canopy
Here are the local women in Waingapu the capital of Sumba, they sell Betel nut a tanin rich seed that turns the teeth black and makes the salivary glands excrete huge amounts of saliva and turns it bright red (A sign of beauty over here, but also a slight narcotic)
The team consisted on undergraduates from Manchester University, post graduates, and Post Docs around 25 in total
The Herbarium in Bogor sent a couple of representatives, to help with identification, but also to help preserve specimens that we could take back for identification.
Indonesia grows a huge amount of Kapok, the inside of the pod is used for cushions and for padding.
The villagers all wear the local ikat from their tribe, but even the young kids helped out carrying the expedition equipment.
The Sumbanese long houses are built on stilts so the livestock lives underneath, generally feeding off scraps from the house above
The Village really did feel like time had stood still, the lifestyle was amazingly simple, but felt increadibly wholesome and healthy
Sumba is famous for growing the indigo plant, the dye is used extensively in the West, but we now create a synthetic dye, but the original dye is a beautifull intense dark blue, used for their ikats
Each house has a series of Ikats on display outside the looms are generally underneath the house in the shade with the livestock, locals wear the ikat every day and it is also used as a shroud.
This is Johannas, he was out guide and this is his family, a lot of the Indonesians have Dutch names as it was colonised by the Dutch in the last century.
The Sumbanese long houses are built on stilts so the livestock lives underneath, generally feeding off scraps from the house above
Dr Jackson took part in the first Pharmacy from the rainforest conference, organised by the American Botanic Council (http://abc.herbalgram.org/site/PageServer) . This was the first oversees lecturing experience, giving a presentation by gaslight and using chalk and blackboards to present. The conference was based at the ACEER foundation (http://www.wcupa.edu/aceer/) , which is a laboratory and research station based in the heart of the Amazon basin. It was here that Dr Jackson got to meet some of his ethnopharmacology heros, ‘Tip Tyler’ ‘James Duke’ Mark Blumenthal to name a few.
The mission of the ACEER Foundation is to promote conservation of the Amazon by fostering awareness, understanding, action, and transformation. This is achieved by initiating environmental education programs, supporting basic and applied research, and protecting unique tracts of land. ACEER has been a dynamic force for rainforest conservation for over 20 years.
The Shamans are the loal medicine men in the Villages of the Amazon, they provide the primary healthcare for most if not all the inhabitants of the villages
In Iquitos we went to a Pharmacy exhibition as you can see most of the Amazon remedies were tinctures in bottles, the usual solvent used to extract phytochemicals is alcohol, usually sugar cane rum.
Part of the shamans ritual involves the shaman taking herbs and medicated plants, here is a Jaguar shaman with herbs tucked up under his headband.
One of the most beautiful sights was to see Toucans free and flying through the rainforest canopies, I'd never seen a real live Toucan before, only in that well known irish drink adverts, but they were actually tiny, a lot smaller than I had imagined.
This was a not to uncommon site whilst walking around the rainforests of South America, and that was Boa constrictors wrapped around the trees.
One of my favourite plants is the Victoria Amazonica, named after Queen Victoria, the species has very large leaves up to 3m in diameter, one interesting fact is that the flowers are white the first night that they open and become pink the second night, and are pollinated by beetles.
The houses that we stayed in were on stilts, often to protect the villagers from rats and vermin, but also a place for the village goats and pigs to sleep.
One of my favourite butterfly is the Morpho Menelaus, hundreds of these could be seen down the banks of the Amazon, especially where there might have been salt deposits on the side of the river. Local Jaguar Indians believe that they are re-incarnated so they hold a very special place in the community and are not hunted as this would bring bad luck.
We had a special trip into the Jungle to witness the Ayahuasca ceremony being undertaken by the village shaman, over 15 different plants are used in the preperation, of this psychoactive infusion, it is used for divinatory and healing purposes by the shamans in the napa region.
One of the most beautifull sights was to see a flock of these blue parots flying out over the canopy at dusk.
Not having the seafearing gene, some of the boats we took, were right out of the 'African Queen' but were the best way to see the whole spectacle o the Amazon.
One of the most lovely plants, and Im sure many people will have seen these in expensive florists, but a native to the Amazon, where it floweres in shards of sublight, hence the name 'sun liking'
One of the most amazing things about rainforests everywhere I go is to look up and see that every inch of sunlight is being used up by this mass of different species all trying to get the maximum out of the sunlight.
This is a beautifull picture of a colleague at the Pharmacy from the Rainforest conference, next to the huge Butress roots.
One of the nice things about the ACEER camp, is they have these aerial runways set up, so you can walk from tree to tree at canpoy height, and as most people know the majority of the life exists in the rainforest in the canopy
From the aerial walkways, you can see out as far as you can see, and I was told could walk for months before coming into contact with any civilisation
This is an aerial view sent to me of the ACEER camp, its one of the only camps set up to research Amazonian Medicianl plants
The capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) is the largest extant rodent in the world. Its closest relatives are guinea pigs, so was strange to see them on the banks of the Amazon nibbling awat at water Hyacinth.
This is one of the huts that we stayed in, note the hammock, great for a lazy afternoon read
One of the most difficult things to see is the insects as they don’t generally live at ground level, but even harder when they disguised as a leaf..
These little creatures are beautiful and used as a source of poison for hunting however, curare is more commonly used for itsm muscle relaxant properties
These little creatures are beautifull and used as a source of poison for hunting however, curare is more commonly used for itsm muscle relaxant properties
The Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin), also known as the Hoactzin, Stinkbird, or Canje Pheasant, is a species of tropical bird found in swamps, riverine forest and mangrove of the Amazon and the Orinoco delta in South America. It is notable for having chicks that possess claws on two of their wing digits. It is one of th elast remainng living dinosours, said to represent the only living specimen of a n ancient flying bird... It is soo unrelated to any other species, it has its own familly Opisthocomidae.
Cows Udder or Solanum mammosum, comes from the same family as tomatoes, it is also known as nipplefruit, Titty fruit, and Cows Udder fruit, or ambiguously 'Apple of Sodom' has traditional use in excema and psoriasis.
It was here that Dr Jackson got to meet some of the most amazing NGO organisations and help set up supply chains for future new products in development, ‘KAITE’ (http://www.kaite.biz/) Is an initiative founded to realise the vision of sustainable human development. KAITE aims to contribute to the comprehensive development of the individual, society and environment. A holistic concept encompassing integrated economic, social and cultural development forms the key KAITE vision. Dr Jackson spent some time with Kaite founder Dominikus Collenberg he KAITE and certifies its partner farmers to cultivate and process organic essential oil crops as well as herbs and spices, using mobile stills and solar dryers especially engineered locally. KAITE also links its partner farmers to international fair trade markets, so that they can benefit directly from the sale of their produce at favorable world prices.
‘Tulimara’ aka Speciality Foods of Africa working to sustainable commercialise indigenous natural resources. This provides alternative incomes for rural producers while encouraging conservation of their resources, their vision is to be the leading producer and supplier of fairly traded, natural food products from Africa. The Tulimara branded products are manufactured from natural and indigenous ingredients. All raw products are purchased from rural community groups or organized small-scale rural farmers from around Africa. SFA’s products are marketed as:
- natural - produced without use of chemicals and artificial substances
- healthy – because of their nutritional composition, the products impart health benefits to those who consume them
- fairly traded – everyone along the production line if fairly remunerated from their contribution to the finished product
These attributes gives SFA products the potential to tap niche markets locally and overseas.
Most of the rural homesteads are farmed by women, the alternative to cash crops are normally not deemed fit for the local manfolk, so the women grow them, that is until they are seen as cash crops
An alternative cash crop used a lot in cosmetics, Asiatica Madecosside, it has compounds which are amazing anti-inflammatorys
Pineapple sage is grown by the rural homesteads, but not for ht essential oils in the leaves, but for th epetals, as it is used in staining herbal teas to make them look redder
The markets in the Zambezi valley are layed out so spectacularly
Here is one of the rural homesteads which are growing some of the non traditional crops
They may not have a huge variety of produce, but what they do have is top notch
So once picked a whole crop can deliver a plate of flowers to be used in the tea industry
Each homestead can hope to grow and harvest a large plate like this of chillies
Sadza is a staple of the African diet, heres Dr Jacksons first taste… delicious!
Only cabbages and potatoes, but displayed so beautifully
One of the Non for profits sets up a mobile steam distillation unit to extract the essential oils from the wild harvested crops
One of the most spectacular sunsets
One of the most amazing sunrises
The road to Makoni where we source one of our natural products
One of the crops used for steam distillation, tagetes is a great carrier oil
It was here that Dr Jackson found a whole colony of Kigelia trees living by the edge of the Zambezi river in this UNESCO World Heritage site and it is part of the NPC (Natural product Community – Dr Jacksons foundation) conservation programme that Dr Jackson and colleagues will GPS, log and study the ecology of these trees and help conserve this area for potential future generations. It is also hoped that we can take the information gathered here to help with the set up of farming activities in other areas of Africa for these and other key indigenous species.
On the road into Manna Pools is the valley of the baobab trees, this is one striking example right in the middle of the road
Most of the trees are scarred by Elephant tusks as the Baobab tree fibre is a source of water in droughts
When we woke up in the morning the mountains in front of us where in Zambia, the edge of the rift valley that spreads all the way down from Malawi
One of the quickest and easiest ways to camp here at manna was to attach your mosquito net to the tree and sleep on the roof, you definitly get a view of the night sky
We were lucky to see the Kigelia just coming into flower, and so many of them
Here is us fishing by the side of the Zambezi, probably not the safest of places with crocodiles swimming close by
The Zebras were plentiful and the hide was beautiful
Such and amazing animal
So here they are the team!
Here are the elephants standing on their back legs to get hold of the Apple Acacia
Here is the first of the seasons flowers to bud
A huge specimen of the Kigelia fruit
Heres one of the team sleeping on the roof of the car, a safer way to camp in the bush