Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New species get raw deal in Goa.

Yes it is true. Species that have been described from the state of Goa by scientists and ecologists get a raw deal, and hardly a handful seem to know about these lesser known creatures and the people behind these contributions to the field of international science.
To begin with, the new descriptions of wild creatures from Goa are mostly lesser known fauna- i.e. in simple terms, smaller wildlife that is for many not of any significant economical, cultural and ecological value- and hence do not figure in any way in the scheme of things as far as awareness or appreciation for these living beings of the land.
Take for example the Goan Day Gecko (Nemespis goanensis), one of our early descriptions from the state, perhaps in the 70’s, a small and yet spectacular species of day lizards whose singular image does not even exist today and very little is known of the same as far as its description or even ecology is concerned. Many more have followed since and in the same manner have been lost in time and space, only to be known by a handful for academicians and researchers interested in the subject.
And sadly it is the same fact even with the new species described from the state in recent times. The species of caecilian (legless burrowing amphibians) described from Bondla Wildlife sanctuary i.e. the Nadkarni’s caecilian (Gegeneophis nadkarnii) in 2004 and the one described from Keri, Sattari Goan caecilian (Gegeneophis goaensis) in 2007 by Dr G. K. Bhatt and his team have not only been forgotten but even ignored for their conservation value by the concerned Departments. The same goes with the newly described scorpion species ‘Thaicharmus lowei’ described from the Netravali wildlife sanctuary in 2007 by Frantisek Kovarik and his team, and there is already another new description in acceptance for a spider species Ctenus goanensis (common name yet to be given) by well known Goan entomologist and scientist Dr Manoj Borkar…all from Goa where the exquisite forests remain unexplored for smaller wildlife and thus present a challenging task for conservation as well as research in terms of wildlife documentation and study.
But this study is tedious, meticulous and back breaking, and let me admit, as I know first hand… frustrating at times too as the recognition and encouragement for the work done is minimal, thanks to the low interest for subjects like ecology and wildlife biology amongst the masses as well as the classes.
However, I earnestly feel it is the need of the hour for our Forest Department to realize that these species descriptions from the state of Goa are not only important species as far as the state or country is concerned but have international significance as well and have succeeded in bringing Goa and its unique wilderness areas on the world map of wildlife and science as well. They need to be given their due recognition and the Department needs to take steps to ensure that at least the locals as well as tourists visiting these sites of discovery like Bondla, Mahdei and Netravali sanctuaries be made aware of the existence of these rare creatures.
That none of our Environment textbooks, Biology journals or even reference periodicals, etc have ever featured or included any of these described species from Goa is not only a sad fact but a shameful one at that. Isn’t it of utmost importance that our student community is aware of these unknown wonders, that have now been described and discovered for the first time from a small state like ours- should not they be appreciated and acknowledge just like other events and in field of sports or development are? It is but high time that the Education department and the Science and Technology department takes note of this lacuna and takes steps to ensure that information of these species and many others including flora and fauna (which I too may have missed) be compiled in the form of a booklet for distribution to libraries of educational institutions for creating awareness about these forgotten species whose knowledge the world community acknowledges time and again. As far as the media is concerned, their role is vital as researchers can only do their bit of documenting and bringing to light new aspects related to science and ecology, but it is the media who has to take the initiative for spreading awareness and creating interest amongst the masses so that this awareness leads to conservation and action for the protection of our wild habitats and their known as well as unknown denizens!
That the State Biodiversity Board needs to wake up from its slumber and bring out publications regarding new descriptions from the state, endemic species of plants and animals as well as threatened species, by way of children’s books, posters and other literature, is as of today the need of the hour.
And while ecologists and wildlife scientists continue to work and report new species and range extensions, endemic and rare species of flora and fauna from our exquisite forests, the least we as a people can do is support them in mind and spirit… and appreciate their work in every way possible. Keep the faith.

1 comment:

Shilpa Avate said...

You are very much right. Yesterday only I was discussing with my colleague regarding the appropriate syllabus about environment, conservation, species should be incorporated from primary education. The sensitization should start in very early age then only people will start taking care of environment around them. Otherwise what happens, laymen like us just grow up to 25 yrs, 35, 45, 55 and during this time if some one , somewhere gets caught by the bug of conservation, wild life, fauna & flora, he or she start doing little bit of the efforts but the early years of their life till that point in a way have not used anyway for the betterment of the environment. So yes, I strongly feel, unless and until our education system does not take cognizance, the next generation will take mother earth just for granted.We actually should make soldiers for environment protection just the way we train soldiers to protect out country. But I really feel positive seeing people like you who work for conservation day and night, others like me get inspired seeing you and start doing something at our end and hope the chain will be continued........