CHENNAI: The tree species of "Elaeocarpus Blascoi Weibel," a rudraksha tree family confined only to the Palani Hills in Tamil Nadu faces a real threat of extinction as just one tree of the group survives, a study has revealed.
In a study published in the "Journal of Threatened Taxa," in the October 26 issue, the authors Dr Raju Ramasubbu and Felix Irudhayaraj with Gandhigram Rural University say that "if urgent conservation measures are not undertaken, the species could become extinct due to threats and unknown limiting factors."
The study on the rudraksha tree species of E blascoi was conducted by the Dindigul based varsity's researchers throughout Palni Hills from July 2012 to May 2014.
The results from the study confirmed that there was "only one mature tree" at present in the wild at Vattakanal Shola at an altitude of 2,011 meters in the Palani hill ranges.
Just two individual rudraksha tree saplings are under the conservation of an NGO. One is at Pambarpuram, Kodaikanal and the other is on the roadside on the way to Dolphin Nose, also in the hill town.
"Elaeocarpus blascoi has a very slow growth rate. It takes more than 15 years to start flowering," the study said.
"In this situation E. blascoi (rudraksha tree) needs the attention of conservation biologists for application of modern conservation tools. Various propagation and tissue culture techniques are required to raise the saplings on a mass scale," it warned.
The authors said seed biological studies are also needed for faster regeneration and that effective strategies to conserve this valuable Tamil Nadu native tree E. blascoi could protect it from extinction and benefit future generations.
They warned that the conservation status indicates that it is critically endangered and not just endangered as the assessment showed.
The status needs to be reassessed and updated on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List immediately, with only one mature individual tree surviving in the wild, they urged.