Bio-prospectors probe Australian Aboriginal lore
AFP, 7 June 2011

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: When Aborigine elder John Watson was bitten by a crocodile while fishing in the remote Australian Kimberley region, there was no doctor he could call, no medical kit on hand to stem the blood. So he relied on the traditional knowledge of his people, passed down over the centuries from generation to generation, to help stop the bleeding from the injury to his hand -the loss of part of his middle finger. Watson knew that if he chewed the bark of a native tree known as “mudjala,” and spat the mixture onto his finger it would both numb the pain and stop the bleeding. And it did. The plant is one of many avidly studied by researchers and bio-prospectors around Australia seeking to derive the next great medicine from the country’s flora. As the hundreds of aboriginal languages quickly fade and traditional knowledge is lost, the race is on to preserve native lore, including that related to the medicinal use of plants. Watson’s Jarlmadangah Burru community set up a research partnership with Griffith University, including an intellectual property arrangement making the two equal partners in the patent applications. Read the article …