10 years on, Shindel Makudi is no longer an endangered plant: study

Nearly 10 years after the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) included the locally grown plant species Shindel Makudi, scientifically known as Frerea Indica, in the list of 12 most endangered plants on earth, the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) has come out with a study in which it claims that the plant is no longer on the verge of extinction and has grown in sizeble number in Pune.

The species was listed among the most endangered species as its area had shrunk to only 7 sq km in Pune. The plant, which was found in abundance around Purandher forts in Pune, used for different medicinal purposes by local residents, has now been grown by government institutions in the city. The local residents use its leaves for healing wounds by rubbing them on injury.

"Shindel Makudi is no longer endangered according to our study," said Joint Director of the BSI, Dr P G Diwakar. He said the study will be brought to the notice of scientists at an international conference, on evolution of plants from tropical to high mountain eco-systems, to be held in Aurangabad from September 2-4. The conference is jointly organised by the BSI and International Association of Plant Taxonomy. "We will present our study so that the IUCN can remove Frerea Indica from the list of endangered species," he said.

BSI officials said they have already taken up the matter with the IUCN. In fact, the small size plant is being grown in controlled conditions by the BSI within green houses and to be later reproduced in normal conditions. "The plant is endemic to Maharashtra and its fruit and flowering season is September-January. It grows along the steep slopes in gravel soil. We took a sample of the plant in 1998 and started growing it here. Its number has grown to nearly 100 plants," said R K Singh, assistant Botanist of the BSI.

Diwkar said the plant number had come down due to pollution. "The disturbance in its habitat due to growth of population was another reason," he said. The plant which was earlier found in Pune can now be seen in Ahmednagar and some parts of Satara district. The BSI has been guiding the government institutions on the need to grow the plant species. This has helped in its growth, said Diwkar.

"We gave the financial institutions up to Rs 1 crore for growing the plant species. We have already provided financial assistance to University of Pune, Fergusson College and other institutions to raise irrigation facilities and green houses to grow the endangered species. We are reviewing some 17 proposals forwarded by institutions seeking financial assistance to grow the plant. Three of these proposal are from Pune while rest are from other parts of Maharastra."

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