Saturday, August 28, 2010

Adansonia digitata: One of the Ten Heritage Trees of Karnataka

The state of Karnataka in the southern part of India has plenty of ancient monuments, structures and history that it takes pride in. But giving due respect to its natural heritage, the state has now come up with the latest list of ten heritage trees that have seen centuries pass by them and have roots going deep into the soil of this land.
While most trees making into the list are quite commonly found Indian trees like the Ficus Religiosa (Peepal) or the Tamarindus Indica (tamarind) trees, there are few that are not only ancient but also rare species to be found in these parts of the world like the 359 years old Adansonia digitata-Malvaceae in Bijapur taluk.

How the Adansonia digitata tree came to Bijapur

Two of these trees commonly known as the baobab trees, have been listed and identified in Bijapur. One is near the near the Ibrahim Roza monument in Bijapur with a girth of 10.84 m and height of 5 m. and another at Yogapur Dargah, near Bijapur, which is believed to be atleast 359-year-old with 9.2-m girth and seven-metre height. Both these trees were planted during the reign of Adil Shahis.

Experts say that the kings of Adil Shahi dynasty were all fascinated by nature and these particular saplings of the adansonia digitata had been imported from Turkey to be planted in Bijapur. The kings were very particular about the nurturing of these plants and took care of their needs like their own children.

Ayurvedic Importance

“Fruits and flowers of these trees are used for medicinal purposes. We consider herbal medicine prepared out of this tree’s flowers and fruits as a panacea for several critical diseases,” says the chief of Yogapur Dargah, without revealing what those critical diseases are.”

According to the site the tree is called goraksi in India and mostly believed to have been brought here by African and Arabian traders.

The site says, “Goraksi is sour and sweet in taste….. The pulp of the fruit is oily, cooling, beneficial to heart and mild laxative in properties. The bark skin is an appetizer, astringent, cooling and decreases the pulse rate. The leaves are oily and astringent……The bark skin, fruits and the leaves of goraksi are used for medicinal purpose. Externally, the paste of its leaves is applied on the swelling. Internally, the pulp of fruit is useful to alleviate the burning sensation in fevers. The skin of its fruit, by itself, reduces the fever. The excessive thirst is alleviated effectively with the pulp of fruit. It is also salutary in controlling hyperhidrosis in tuberculosis.”

Thus, the government of Karnataka has done a commendable job in atleast recognising the ancient trees and highlighting their importance in the ecosystem of the area.

Image credit Stig Nygaard, scot.zona, tatters:) via cc/Flickr

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Open sale of Endangered Species at Jakarta Expo

A Flora and Fauna exhibition was recently organised in Lapangan Banteng in Central Jakarta and while this exhibitions could have served the planet well by informing and educating people about the harms being done to the flora and fauna of the world, it was instead used as a mass sale festival of many endangered species of animals.

What was concerning from India’s point of view was the ease with which rare Indian star tortoises, which are protected under the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species were being sold here, at a price as high as $500 each. The vendors were also quite blatantly announcing that they could provide an undisplayed animals for a decent price.

This illegal trade acitivities happening in borad daylight, only highlights the imminent danger on the lives of so many plants and animals. When the complains of illegal trading at the expo reached Harry Santosa, the director for biodiversity conservation at the State Ministry for the Environment, he sent a team to check but miraculously found no buyers or sellers at the event.

Whether the vanishing act was preplanned or sheer luck on the vendors part is still not known. However Chris Shepherd, an official with TRAFFIC, a British-based international wildlife monitoring network,said Indonesia has grown as a hub for illegal marine species trading over the recent years.

“Recent surveys, and this expo, have shown that the trade continues and now involves more illegally imported species than ever,” he said. “Dealers know full well that it’s illegal and are taking advantage of the enforcement agencies’ lack of action.”
The flora and fauna exhibition is held annually at the city’s anniversary celebration and sadly it is also an annual affair when hundred of endangered and critically endangered animals from South Africa, Asia and south America are traded openly at the venue.

“It’s ironic that the expo is held to introduce Indonesia’s rich biodiversity, but turns out to promote the endangered ones — even those that are on the brink of extinction,” said Pramudya Harzani, spokesperson Jakarta Animal Aid Network.
Image credit Roberto Verzo via cc/Flickr

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shark Fin Soup making Sharks Endangered in Andhra Pradesh

Fishermen in Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh have found a new way of making money – through shark fins. The rising demand of shark fins in south Asian countries has led to the increase in shark hunting in the eastern coasts of the country.

Shark fin soup is a delicacy in countries like Singapore, China, Malaysia and Hong Kong and to meet the demand, sharks are being hunted in plenty by fisherman who directly export the fishes.

“The fishermen population mainly depends upon shark fishing nowadays because of the high value of sharks. The shark fins are dried and exported to other Asian countries," said D.E.Babu, Professor, Zoology Department of Andhra University.

The fishermen however are not ready to take the direct allegations. According to them, the shark hunting is not intentional but they are caught in the nets while fishing for other fishes.

It is nevertheless believed that traders make deals in thousands at the shores with the fisherman.

Shark fishing was banned under the Wildlife Act and the Marine Fishing Act of 1986.

Image Credit
Photo by StormyDog via cc/flickr

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Cheetah Will Run Again in India

It was in 1967 when Cheetah was last spotted in India. But now wildlife lovers can cheer as the animal is all set to make an entry again into the wild grasslands of the country where it will be re-introduced.
The move is being planned in order to save the grasslands and many other endangered species here.

The Wildlife Trust of India and the Wildlife Institute of India proposed in a report presented to the Ministry of Environment and Forest the reintroduction of cheetahs in India. They have identified three sites, Kuno-Palpur and Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh and Shahgarh Landscape in Jaisalmer in Rajasthan where the animal can be brought and intitially it is being planned to import 18 cheetahs to the country.

The cheetahs will be brought from Middle East, where North African Cheetah are bred, Iran, Namibia and South Africa and the initial cost required for the re-introduction in each site would be almost ` 100 Crore in the next 2 to 3 years but it will be totally funded by the centre government.

Applauding the move Minister of State Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh said, "It is important to bring cheetah back to our country. This is perhaps the only mammal whose name has been derived from Sanskrit language. It comes from the word chitraku which means spots. The way tiger restores forest ecosystem, snow leopard restores mountain ecosystem, Gangetic dolphin restores waters in the rivers, the cheetah will restore grasslands of the country.”

It is believed that with the re-introduction of the Cheetah, the dire conditions of the grasslands will come into limelight thereby reviving the efforts needed to preserve the ecosystem and the endangered species like the carcal (Caracal caracal), the India wolf Canis lupus pallipes) and the three endangered species of the bustard family – the Houbara (Chlamydotis undulate macqueenii), the lesser florican (Sypheotides indica) and the most endangered of them all – the great Indian bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps).

This will also help benefit pastoralism in India where the largest livestock population in the world resides.
Image credit
Cliff1066 via cc/Flickr