This is in response to the letter by B K Verma (June 30, 1994) on my article on the Malabar civet (April 30, 1994). I had said that one of the "reported" uses of civet-musk, among several others, is as an aphrodisiac. In saying this, I am neither promoting nor decrying its use. Would Verma support the use of the musk if its "reported" use was to decrease virility?
Also, whenever we deal with a highly endangered species, it is necessary to put a number to it, however crude. In the case of the Malabar civet, I estimated the population from the area of the existing habitat and the density of civets of comparable body weight that are generally found.
In a conservation history of any species, field action, including attempts to obtain better estimates, has been initiated on the basis of such crude estimates. Without them, many species would not have survived nor would better estimates have been made. The first crude estimate of the civets is between 250-500. We cannot wait till we get the final word on its population and ecology -- the species might then be history. ...
Bring on the ducks
With reference to your article On the Move (July 15, 1994), the Indian government has indeed overlooked the potential of duck rearing. Although you have mentioned that duck meat has a fishy smell, it is regarded as a delicacy in many parts of the world. In the West and in China and Japan, duck meat is considered superior to chicken. Unfortunately, in India, poultry farming is being encouraged at the expense of duck farming.
The boom in the food processing industry gives India an excellent opportunity to export duck meat. Even locally, it should be consumed by people who cannot afford to buy mutton or chicken. ...
We seek your support to save the Kallakkadavu peak from total destruction. The peak is one of the 20 beautiful forest peaks dotting the Western Ghats. It is located in the Thalayanai range in Sivagiri taluka in Nellai Kattabomman district of Kerala.
Before Independence, a 1.9 ha piece of land was owned by one Sivagiri Zamin deep in the forest. The Zamin family used to grow spices on this plot. Later, they sold the plot to the Anandammal family, who stopped growing spices and decided to cut all the trees from the plot.
As per a High Court verdict, the family is entitled to fell 93 withered and 394 live trees. Unfortunately, trees in more than 40 ha have been felled with the tacit support of forest officials. The Anandammals are also ruthlessly uprooting trees to lay a 1.27 metre-wide road over a 15 km stretch -- in direct contravention of the High Court ruling that only a 1.5 km road should be laid. It is estimated that over 19 ha of the forest will be cleared to lay the link road for the 1.9 ha plot. ...
The conventional way
The world is facing a crisis because of the low priority accorded to conventional forestry by policymakers and planners. Although commercial forestry does provide inputs for resource generation for development activities, it degenerates the ecosystem and the integrated growth of flora and fauna.
We believe that humankind will survive only by promoting conventional afforestation of different species of bushes, trees and plants. These will help develop and conserve water resources, enrich the soil with minerals and pave the way for a world free from pollution and natural calamities. ...
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