General Description / Cultural Significance
Mosukujane, Lippia javanica, is an herb that grows throughout Botswana, although it is more associated with the desert area, meaning it grows over 70 percent of the territory known as the Kalahari Desert. An herbal tea can be made from its leaves, and as the brewing process occurs, its lovely fragrance fills the atmosphere. Mosukujane has creamy white flowers and a strong lemon-like scent. This woody, multi-stemmed shrub is known to possess antioxidant and antibiotic activities. It is said to be helpful against fever and asthma, among other ailments, and is also used in a cleansing ceremony traditionally, when somebody comes in contact with a corpse and generally as protection.
Climate Change/Conservation Status
Conservation of indigenous wild edible plants, including wild vegetables, is being encouraged by the government because they survive in a wide range of environmental conditions and provide important nutritional support for local populations. Additionally, exotic vegetables imported from neighboring South Africa are not affordable for the rural residents.
Mosukujane is not currently at risk for extinction. However, Botswana’s environmental problems include drought and desertification, caused by climate change, human activity, and overgrazing. Due to the drought, deep ground water is being extracted to aid both human and animal populations. Additionally, this desertification is being exacerbated by the fact that 71% of the country’s land is used for communal grazing.
Despite this, Botswana is flourishing both politically and economically, with most of the country’s wealth coming from the diamond industry. It has one of the most unique ecosystems in the world, with 38% of its total land area devoted to national parks, reserves and wildlife management areas. It has one of the lowest population numbers in Africa. However, that is changing due to an influx of Zimbabweans migrants.
In 2021, Botswana adopted the Climate Change Policy to make changes in sectors including agriculture, water, and biodiversity among others.