The yin and yang of conservation

Finding a genuine Indian guitar among the hundreds of Chinese ones is almost like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. Even the guitar brands, thought to be made in Kolkata, now

Published: 24th March 2012 12:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:41 PM   |  A+A-

Finding a genuine Indian guitar among the hundreds of Chinese ones is almost like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. Even the guitar brands, thought to be made in Kolkata, now have a ‘Made-In-China’ tag.

The only music instruments that have resisted this Chinese invasion are the Indian percussion instruments. The reason they attribute it to is the wood - that of the jackfruit tree, quite common in the state, which is seen only sparsely in southern parts of China. Yet, this tree, which has a number of delicious varieties in the state is little understood, as far as propagation and conservation is concerned.

The clamour for conservation of native biological wealth, have been loud and clear until now. If we don’t know what we have, we would not know what we are losing until it is too late, was the reasoning. While botany students turned all their attention to biotechnology, zoologists got back on track with taxonomic studies on the rapidly vanishing frogs, worm-like amphibians and fishes, even erecting whole families in the animal kingdom.

However, the world of zoology has been witnessing a debate on conservation, with one section opining that the study of threatened species itself contribute to the wipeout of certain species.

The latest issue of Current Science to come out on Sunday has devoted two pages to this controversy where a group of scientists from various institutes and NGOs justifying and defending the need for scientific studies.

In the eye of the storm is that small pretty fish fondly called Miss Kerala in the aqua-world and Puntius denisonii in the scientific world. The fish became the princess of aquarium trade, indiscriminately captured from the wild and exported. and in no time found its way to the Red List of International Union of Conservation for Nature. It was in a previous issue of Current Science that R J Daniels authored a paper arguing that taxonomic research is a threat to the fresh water fishes of the Western Ghats.

The current paper on the opinion page by Rajeev Raghavan and others has said that ‘curtailing fish taxonomy research and blindly following hitherto published guides of fish taxonomy would signal an end to an active research area, and would mean that the biological (fish) diversity of the Western Ghats will continue to remain unexplored’.

Those scientists who have justified the taxonomic studies and conservation include Rajeev Raghavan, Anvar Ali, Simmy Solomon, Fibin Baby and Benno Pereira from St Alberts College, Neelesh Dahanukar from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, K Krishnakumar from the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment, M R Ramprasanth from Integrated Rural Technology Centre, Mundur, Josin Tharian from St.John’s College Anchal and Siby Philip from the Laboratory of Ecotoxicology, Genomics and Evolution, CIIMAR, Portugal.

Follow the debate on Current Science, volume 102, number 6, issue dated March 25.

(Sci-bug takes you across the world, from test-tubes and petri-dishes to the farthest corners of the planet and beyond, wherever science makes interesting findings. Keep track of the bug, every Saturday. And do not forget to give us a feedback on


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