Gabon’s sacred plant ‘Iboga’ under threat of extinction

Iboga, is one of the world’s strongest psychedelic drugs. Used to induce deep hallucinogenic trances, the plant mostly grown in Gabon is under the threat of extinction.

In Oyem, a town located about 372 km from Libreville, a farmer, Hervé Omva has given himself a challenge: to industrially grow this plant, which is used to treat substance use disorders.

He explains how he plans to succeed in his venture:

“The idea of planting, domesticating, developing plantations helps to protect the plant in the wild. So in terms of protection, this is already a very important aspect. But, also, we see that there is a huge traffic which generates a lot of money but which does not bring back to the country. And so, it is in this framework also in the process of diversification of our economy, that this plant, I think plays a very important role”.

Nguema Maixent Sylvain is a sculptor and can attest to this because he consumes the Iboga tree products and according to him it helps him to concentrate and to be skillful in his work.

“When I use Iboga when I do my work, it inspires me, it propels my mind. I can stay a whole day without thinking about peeing, without thinking about eating. I can hardly think about drinking water, but it’s not really that. Actually it connects me with my genius self and I’m really connected with my art,” he said.

The largest and oldest reserves of Iboga have been decimated by poachers who are destroying plant stocks to harvest root bark for sale to black market and grey market producers.

The government of Gabon is currently considering criminalizing international trafficking of Iboga.

In the year 2000, iboga was declared a national treasure by the Council of Ministers

It enjoys protection and official recognition as a “cultural heritage strategic reserve.”

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Source: Africanews

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