The Maharashtra coast may lose a critically endangered species of mangrove, Xylocarpus granatum, warned two researchers, who have called for greater awareness of the issue among citizens.
Associate professor at Islampur-based Karmavir Bhaurao Patil College, MV Gokhale, and a research fellow at the botany department of Shivaji University, Sajid Sheikh, found the situation of the mangroves on the coast of Maharashtra to be deteriorating.
Gokhale told DNA that the species, commonly known as Bhelanda, is facing a severe threat on the Maharashtra coast.
“This species is quite common on the East Coast, but not the West Coast. In Achara estuary, we spotted only 150 trees. Besides, three individual trees were reported at Vaghotan, Rajapur and Jaygad. In Rajapur, only one Bhelanda tree is left,” Gokhale said.
Achara is the native place of Gokhale. “Reports dating back to 1905 and senior villagers claim this tree was found in ample numbers in the past,” he said, adding that the fruit of Bhelanda can be used as medicine to relieve abdominal pain.
Apparently, destruction of the seeds by monkeys, soil erosion, cutting for timber and reclamation and decreasing areas of the estuaries are some of the reasons for the decrease in the
number of these trees.
The researchers are trying to conserve the species in six places through manual plantation, but have met with limited success.
The preparation of the saplings of the species outside the estuary is difficult as the seeds succumb to nematodes more easily outside the estuary.
“The local people should understand the importance of the mangroves. There is more awareness of the mangrove conservation on the East Coast, which faced severe disasters like cyclones and the tsunami,” Gokhale said.