Ecology and sustainable management of the African aphrodisiac bark, Pausinystalia johimbe

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Pausinystalia johimbe (K.Schum) Pierre ex Bielle is a tree native to coastal forests of Central-Africa, with a range extending from southeast Nigeria to Gabon (Vivien & Faure 1985) and possibly to the Democratic Republic of Congo (Stoffelen et al. 1996). It is a late-secondary tree species of tropical forests that does not attain a large diameter. The bark of P. johimbe has long been used in traditional health care and cultural systems for its aphrodisiac properties. Indeed, the efficacy of the bark in treating organic male impotence has led to the development of a worldwide market for yohimbe-based products (Fig. 4.lA, B). These products are distributed through both pharmaceutical channels and the less regulated herbal medicine markets. Cameroon supplies the majority of the raw bark entering the commercial trade, and recent increases in harvest levels of have led to concerns about the sustainability of this exploitation (Sunderland et al. 1997, 1999, 2000; Tchoundjeu et al. 2004). Although P. johimbe is not listed as threatened (Oldfield et al. 1998), it is likely that current levels and methods of exploitation will result in considerable local scarcity, if not long-term endangerment, of the species.

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