Pics By: Dr. Madhyastha
Many a times we must have passed through the twisting and winding terrains of Agumbe ghats of our state and must have appreciated the natural beauty spread all around Agumbe and surrounding places like Someshwara, kudluthertha and others. But have you ever felt while your journey to this beautiful place that you are travelling amidst the some of the rare god gifted places of the world. Have you ever felt that you are in an area which is well known in this world for its rich species diversity and officially termed as Hot Spot as termed by Norman Myers.
Norman Myers termed the word ‘Hot Spot’ in order to identify basically two aspects– the density of species and the degree of threats to it. He assumed that by doing this he would help in identifying the most species rich areas of the world and also help in protecting them by giving the world an idea of the rare spots in this world.
If we look at the global level we will find ourselves lucky enough that some of these rare places also lay in some parts of India. Eastern Himalayas and Western ghats are amongst the rare spots officially known as hot spots of the world. But the matter of fact is that the spots are also partially shared by our neighbouring countries like Eastern Himalayas is shared with Burma while some parts of Western Ghats fall in Sri Lanka too.
If we talk especially about Western Ghats which lay in our closest proximity, it starts from Gujrat and runs till Tamil Nadu in Southern India and extends partially to some parts of Sri Lanka. In reality the ghat is divided into three regions based on the kinds of rocks found. The first being a region from Gujrat to Goa which covers Karnataka too which is characterized by flat rocks, and the second part is the region from Goa to Palaghat known for heterogeneous rocks and the last being the region with vertical peaks from Palaghat to Kanyakumari and also some parts of Lanka. Point noteworthy that the ghat is not continuous as it seems at some place it has a gap of 30 Kms.
Western ghats is very well known in the world for the varied number of animal and plants species. Many of the animal and plants species in this region are highly endemic and not found anywhere in the world. This spot is known for Indian tigers, Asian elephants, king cobras and many other animals. Some of the exclusive animals from Western Ghats include Nilgiri langur, lion tailed macaque and Nilgiri tahr. There are more than 4050 species of flowering plants found here and many of them are endemic to flowering plants. Due to the rich biodiversity of this place the Dehradun based Wildlife Institute of India proposed to UNESCO to declare Western Ghats as the International Heritage site (Natural).
As far as Karnataka is concerned it comprises of almost 45% of the Western Ghats. One must have appreciated the greenery all around the areas under the parts of Western Ghats in Karnataka. Researches also get an opportunity to work in the deep forests of Western Ghats.
But at the same time being a wonderful and precious spot of the world it is facing many threats. Slash and burn techniques of agriculture already have damaged Western Ghats in the past but with the advancement of science and with the increasing greed of human beings the ghats now posses threats from different sources.
Many people living near to western ghats have become dependent on them for many things including fodder, green manure, some construction materials, collection of non-timber products, medicinal plants etc. On larger context mining, poaching, encroachment and large scale deforestation are some of the major challenges in front of Western Ghats.
In the contemporary days the new concept of resorts near the sensitive areas also had added fuel to the fire. Even some infrastructure works like broadening of highways and establishment of railway lines also in a manner disturbs the harmony of the natural place.
Keeping in mind the threats to Western Ghats and its importance at global level few years ago, western ghat task Force was made to ensure the maintenance of western ghats from the external illegal threats but what about the threats posed by the government as well due to mining and other cases where legally the spot is exploited.
Research in Western Ghats:
In the last few years many researches have been done in Western Ghats and with new researches more hidden facts have come forward. Researches were also made in the field of malocology which deals with the study of snails. Dr. N A Madhyastha is among the pioneers in the field of malacology research in Western Ghats. Talking to mangalorean.com he said, “From our studies in western ghats the most important thing that we found was two species of molluscs-Psuedomulleria dalyi and Cremnoconchus which supports continental drift theory as proposed by many experts in the past.”
He explained, “Psuedomulleria dalyi is a rare, endemic species of western ghats whose relatives are found in Africa and on the other hand Cremnoconchus the marine (basically) mollusc are found in the water falls of western ghats.” He also added that Western ghats were once a continental shelf but with the passage of time it came up that’s why some marine species are found there.
Point noteworthy the theory of continental drift for which the results of Dr. Madhyastha support opines that once upon a time there was only a single large land near Artica-Pangia which later got fragmented into different landscapes one being the Gondwana (Old India) which moved upwards and then collided with Laurasia and then Himalaya was created that’s why Himalaya has some marine species too.
Author: Manish Kumar- Manipal