Nearly 5,000 plant species in India at risk of extinction

Nearly 5,000 plant species in India at risk of extinction
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Traditionally, India’s flora has been described as one of the richest across the globe, but nearly 5,000 plant species in the country are facing the danger of extinction.

Warangal: Traditionally, India’s flora has been described as one of the richest across the globe, but nearly 5,000 plant species in the country are facing the danger of extinction.

The reason for this is population pressure, human interference and habitat destruction. There is an emergency need to take up conservation efforts to preserve the endangered species, asserted R Raghavendra Rao, the honorary scientist at Indian National Science Academy.

A plant called Tricopus zeylanicus commonly called as ‘Jeevani’ and Arogyapacha in Western Ghats has become endangered. The plant’s fruits are endowed with properties of anti-fatigue and DNA-protection and immunity-enhancing and Kerala government banned its collection.

Similarly an anti-cancer plant called Taxus wallichiana, native to Himalaya area, Panax pseudoginseng with common names Nepal ginseng, and Himalayan ginseng in North East and many others have become critically endangered, Raghavendra Rao told The Hans India here on Tuesday.

Nearly 28 per cent of plants in India are endemic to the country. If they are not protected and preserved by our efforts, they will go permanently out of existence from the world. About 90 per cent of forest area in Western Ghats has disappeared making it a hottest hotspot indicating the peril the flora faces there.

According to him, nearly 1,000 species in the State are facing threat due to destruction of their habitat.

Raghavendra Rao further stated that nearly 200 new species of plants were being discovered every year in India by scientists. India being signatory to all environmental protection treaties is doing its part to protect the plant life but more is needed to done.

Akin to species, the taxonomists who classify plants into broader categories have also become endangered; he said suggesting that there are only a handful of experts are left in the field to do the job and there are no funds to carry out research on taxonomy.

‘It is because the universities are not keen in appointing experts to teach taxonomy. And the teaching of taxonomy in wrong manner has made it unfashionable among the students. If existing taxonomists in the country die we need to go to foreign countries to identify plants here’.

The universities have to give priority to taxonomy as a subject, Raghavendra Rao said adding major problem that is troubling plant research is improper funding. The funding to research projects should be continuous but should not be time bound.

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