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Lotus species face extinction in Meghalaya
Correspondent SHILLONG, JUL 24:
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Published on 24 Jul. 2009 11:29 PM IST
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A rare Lotus species, Nymphaea Tertragonoloba, not found anywhere else in the world, but at a small pond in Meghalaya, is facing extinction. The delicate Lotus species is found only in a small pond owned by a private individual at Smit village, around 20 kms from Shillong, and nowhere else in the world. ‘’More than two decades ago, we set out to save these plant species which were on the verge of extinction and there are just around ten of these rare plants in the pond,’’ North-Eastern Hills University (NEHU) Vice-Chancellor and one of the country’s leading botanists Prof Pramod Tandon said. A team of research scholars from NEHU’s Botany department first stumbled upon this rare Lotus variety during their study in 1985. During those years, about 20 to 30 plants would bloom each summer, he said. However, this rare Lotus species is facing extinction due to human encroachment and mismanagement in its habitat. ‘’We have tried to save this particular species through tissue culture, but it did no yield desirable results,’’ Prof Tandon said. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has allocated Rs 12 lakh for preservation of endangered Nymphaea Tertragonoloba. ‘’This is the only scheme which is plant specific and the fund would be used to protect the plant’s habitat, carry out further studies and also try to propagate this rare water Lily,’’ Meghalaya Principal Chief Conservator of Forests VK Nautiyal said. As this plant is very delicate and difficult to propagate under laboratory environment, Mr Nautiyal advocated that alternatives must be found for its propagation. ‘’The fund that has been made available would help to carry out research on this rare plant facing extinction, which experts say is found nowhere in the world,’’ he added. Meanwhile, under the National plant recovery programme of the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, NEHU has successfully micro-propagated (to propagate plants through modern plant tissue culture) two endangered plant species of the Nepenthes khasiana, the carnivorous pitcher plant found in Meghalaya, and Mantesia wengeri, the state flower of Mizoram, with 100 per cent success. India has around 49,000 plant species - around 12 per cent of the world’s known species. Twenty per cent of these are under threat of extinction. Nearly 70 of them listed as critically endangered by the Botanical Survey of India are found in the country’s Northeast.

 
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