Monthly Archives: June 2016

Illegal Trade in Wild Life

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Wildlife trade: what is it?

Wild life trade is any sale or exchange of wild animal and plant resources by people. This can involve live animals and plants or a diverse range of products needed or prized by humans—including skins, medicinal ingredients, tourist curios, timber, fish and other food products. Most wildlife trade is probably within national borders, but there is a large volume of wildlife in trade internationally.

Why?
There are many reasons why wildlife is traded, including:

food—fruits, mushrooms, nuts, leaves and tubers, are particular important resources in sustaining livelihoods in many rural areas. Wild animals (including fish) contribute at least a fifth of the animal protein in rural diets in more than 60 countries. A TRAFFIC study demonstrated reliance on wild meat is growing in Eastern and Southern Africa in response to increased human populations and poverty.

fuel—trees and plants are an important source of fuel for cooking and heating, especially in rural areas

fodder—considered very important non-wood forest products in arid regions of Asia and Africa

building materials—for example, timber for furniture and housing to ingredients in manufacturing processes, such as gums and resins

clothing and ornaments—leather, furs, feathers, ivory etc

sport—from falconry to trophy hunting

healthcare— everything from herbal remedies, traditional medicines to ingredients for industrial pharmaceuticals. An estimated 80 % of the world’s population are said to rely for primary health care on traditional medicines

religion—many animals and plants or derivatives are used for religious purposes;

collections—many wildlife specimens and curios are collected by museums and private individuals

The primary motivating factor for wildlife traders is economic, ranging from small scale local income generation to major profit-oriented business, such as marine fisheries and logging companies.

Between collectors of wildlife and the ultimate users, any number of middlemen may be involved in the wildlife trade, including specialists involved in storage, handling, transport, manufacturing, industrial production, marketing, and the export and retail businesses.

In fact most of us are involved in wildlife trade in some way, even if it just as end consumers of wildlife products.

Scale
The wildlife trade involves hundreds of millions of individual plants and animals from tens of thousands of species and seafood are the most important categories of international wildlife trade, in terms of both volume and value. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), more than $100 billion of fish were traded and nearly $200 billion timber in 2009. To put this into perspective, in the same year, the global trade value of tea, coffee and spices all together was $24.3 billion.

It is estimated that 70 000 species of plant are used for medicinal purposes alone.  Additionally, approximately 25% of ‘modern’ pharmacy medicines have been developed based on the medicinal properties of wild species. Little is known about the status of many of these species, although those that have been assessed show a concerning picture.

“Recently a citizen of China passed away at the age of 256 years, who has been using wild herbs as his food and was dealing in the same trade. He in turn had seen a person of the age of 500 years, who had taught him the use of herbs for remaining healthy besides achieving longevity.”

International trade in species of conservation concern is monitored by CITES. From 2005 – 2009, CITES recorded an annual average of more than 317,000 live birds, just over 2 million live reptiles, 2.5 million crocodilian skins, 1.5 million lizard skins, 2.1 million snake skins, 73 tonnes of caviar, 1.1 million coral pieces and nearly 20,000 hunting trophies.

Not all trade is legal of course: between 2005 and 2009 EU enforcement authorities made over 12,000 seizures of illegal wildlife products in the EU.

Value: In the early 1990s, TRAFFIC estimated the value of legal wildlife products imported globally was around USD160 billion. In 2009, the estimated value of global imports was over USD323 billion. 

TRAFFIC estimated the legal trade of wildlife products into the EU alone was worth an estimated €93 billion in 2005 and this increased to nearly €100 billion in 2009.

By its very nature, it is almost impossible to obtain reliable figures for the value of illegal wildlife trade, but the figure must run into hundreds of millions of dollars. The value of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries alone has been estimated as between USD10-23 billion per year (MRAG & FERR, 2008), while the value of the illegal international timber trade has been estimated as USD7 billion per year, and the illegal wildlife trade, excluding timber and fisheries as USD7.8-10 billion per year (GFI, 2011).

Problems
As human populations have grown, so has the demand for wildlife. People in developed countries have become used to a lifestyle which fuels demand for wildlife; they expect to have access to a variety of seafoods, leather goods, timbers, medicinal ingredients, textiles etc. Conversely, extreme poverty of others means they regard wildlife as a means to meet their short-term needs and will trade it for whatever they can get.

Over-exploitation is a major concern:

Wildlife is vital to a high proportion of the world’s population. People depend directly on wildlife for consumption and as a way of earning cash. However, irresponsible wildlife trade is threatening this resource, and those most affected tend to be the poorest people, in developing nations.

Illegal wildlife trade causes additional problems. The species traded are often already highly threatened and in danger of extinction, conditions under which wildlife is transport are often appalling, operators are unscrupulous and do not care how they damage the environment (for example they use cyanide to kill fish, or log in protected areas; illegal trade undermines nations’ efforts to manage their natural resources sustainably and causes massive economic losses in lost earnings. It is often said that illegal wildlife trade is the third most valuable illicit commerce behind drugs and arms.

Introducing invasive species that prey upon, or out- compete native species. Invasive species are a major cause of recent extinctions. Wildlife traders have purposely introduced any invasive species, such as American Mink, Red-eared Terrapin and many plant species.

Hotspots
There are certain places where wildlife trade is particularly threatening called “wildlife trade hotspots”. They include China’s international borders, trade hubs in East/Southern Africa and South-east Asia, the eastern borders of the European Union, some markets in Mexico, parts of the Caribbean, parts of Indonesia and New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands.

Response
TRAFFIC seeks and activates solutions to the problems created by illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade. Our aim is to encourage sustainability by providing decision-makers, traders and others involved in wildlife trade reliable information about the environmental harm irresponsible trade can cause, and present guidance on how to counteract it.

Legislation is a vital way to control wildlife trade, but to be successful, laws need to be widely understood, accepted and practical to apply. A major part of TRAFFIC’s programme is working closely with law makers, law enforcers and the judiciary, to ensure appropriate laws are in place, are fully understood by those enforcing them and transgressors receive appropriate penalties.

 J&K Wildlife Protection Act

The Jammu and Kashmir wildlife (Protection) act was enacted in 1978 to meet the objectives contained therein. Since the creation of full-fledged department of Wildlife Protection, in 1982 the state government has taken as series of majors for conservation of forest/ protected areas and the wildlife therein. The state government has not notified about 16000 sq. kms as the protected area network (PAN) which is being managed through anti poaching/ anti grazing activities, habitat management, plantation, soil and water conservation, fire protection, development of infrastructure, providing supplemental feed etc. prior to this J&K Game Preservation Department has been created under Game Preservation Act, 1942 to protect and preserve the Game “In the state” which include the few species of wild animals and birds considered to be important from hunting point of view as a sport. The state has amended the J&K wildlife protection act of 1978 on the lines of Indian wildlife protection act 1972. The schedule have been revised and now there is complete ban on hunting and no. on endangered species of wild animals and plants have been brought to the Schedule-I and Schedule-IV of the act to afford them utmost protection. Apart from this wild plants have also been brought within the preview of this act.

Functions and Responsibilities

  • Management and Habitat improvement of Protected Areas
  • Law enforcement/ Wildlife Crime check
  • Wildlife Management plans Formulation and implement thereof
  • Captive breeding, Zoos and Zoological parks
  • Research and training programmes
  • Species recovery programmes

Wildlife Species

List of important Wildlife Species of J&K and their status as per IUCN’s Red Data Book / J&K Wildlife Protection Act, 1978 (Amended upto 2002):

S.No Species Region Status as per IUCN’s Red Data Book Status as per Wildlife Protection Act
1) Snow Leopard Ladakh, Kashmir & Jammu Endangered Schedule I
2) Common Leopard Jammu, Kashmir & Ladkah Near Threatened Schedule – I / Endangered
3) Black Bear Kashmir & Jammu Vulnerable Schedule – II
4) Brown Bear Ladakh, Kashmir & Jammu Least Concern Schedule – I / Endangered
5) Ibex Ladakh, Kashmir & Jammu Least Concern Schedule – I / Endangered
6) Himalayan tahr Jammu Near Threatened Schedule – I / Endangered
7) Spotted Deer Jammu Least Concern Schedule – III
8) Barking Deer Jammu Least Concern Schedule – III
9) Goral Jammu Near Threatened Schedule – I
10) Markhor Kashmir & Jammu Endangered Schedule – I / Critically Endangered
11) Serow Kashmir & Ladakh Near threatened Schedule – I / Endangered
12) Hangul Kashmir Least Concern Schedule – I / Critically Endangered
13) Musk Deer Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh Endangered Schedule – I / Endangered
14) Chiru (Tibetan Antelope) Ladakh Endangered Schedule – I / Critically Endangered
15) Tibetan gazelle Ladakh Near Threatened Schedule – I / Endangered
16) Nayan (Tibetan Sheep) Ladakh Schedule – I
17) Wild Yak Ladakh Vulnerable Schedule – I
18) Pallas Cat Ladakh Schedule – I
19) Black Necked Crane Ladakh Vulnerable Schedule – I
20) Golden Eagle Kashmir, Ladakh & Jammu Least Concern Schedule – I / Endangered
21) Cheer Pheasant Kashmir, Jammu Vulnerable Schedule – I / Endangered

(Data Source: Annual Administration Report 2011-12, J&K Forest Department)

THE ILLEGAL IVORY TRADE:

  • Asia’s greed for ivory puts African elephant at risk Slaughter by poachers intensifies as governments seek to increase legal sales
  • There has been a massive surge in illegal ivory trading, researchers warned. They have found that more than 14,000 products made from the tusks and other body parts of elephants were seized in 2009, an increase of more than 2,000 on their previous analysis in 2007.
  • Details of this disturbing rise have been revealed on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the world ivory trading ban. Implemented on 18 January 1990, it was at first credited with halting the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of elephants.
  • But the recent growth in the far east’s appetite for ivory – a status symbol for the middle classes of the region’s newly industrialised economies – has sent ivory prices soaring from £150 a kilogram in 2004 to more than £4,000.
  • At the same time, scientists estimate that between 8% and 10% of Africa’s elephants are now being killed each year to meet the demand. The world’s largest land animal is again threatened with widespread slaughter.
  • “It is a really worrying situation,” said Richard Thomas, director of Traffic, the group that monitors trade in wildlife. “However, it is not absolutely clear what should be done.” Indeed, the issue is so confused that a conflict over the ivory trade is expected at March’s meeting of Cites, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
  • A key source of contention will be the future of legitimate stockpile sales of ivory that have been permitted by international agreement. Killing elephants for their tusks is illegal, but selling ivory from animals that have died of natural causes has been permitted on occasions. In 2008 a stockpile of tusks – from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe – was bought by dealers from China and Japan. The sale, of 105,000 kilograms of ivory, raised more than £15m.
  • But now countries including Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo are to call for a ban of these stockpile sales at the Cites meeting. They say such trade – albeit sporadic – only increases demand for ivory goods and is responsible for triggering the recent rise in illegal trade and the killing of thousands of elephants across Africa.
  • This point is backed by shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert, who recently returned from a visit to study the impact of ivory poaching in India. “On the 20th anniversary of the international ban on the ivory trade, we should be taking a stand,” he said last week. “Instead of flooding the market with more ivory and legitimising the trade, we should be choking demand, not stoking it.”
  • But countries such as Tanzania and Zambia, which have some of the worst poaching records in Africa, want a relaxation of ivory trade regulations at Cites so they can hold their own stockpile sales. They say the tens of millions of pounds that can be raised will help them fund rangers who can protect their elephants.
  • “Unfortunately the evidence is not clear whether stockpile sales increase demand for ivory or help to control it,” said Heather Sohl of the WWF. “We have had recent stockpile sales of ivory – and poaching has increased dramatically. But other factors may be involved. Many African countries are suffering terrible drought and local people are desperate. Killing elephants brings money, alas.”
  • Killing for tusks is a particularly gruesome trade. Elephants are intelligent animals whose sophisticated social ties are exploited by poachers. They will often shoot young elephants to draw in a grieving parent, which is then killed for its ivory. Estimates suggest more than 38,000 elephants were killed this way in 2006: the death rate is higher today.

BREAKING NEWS: At least 40 dead baby tigers uncovered at infamous Tiger Temple

By Coconuts Bangkok June 1, 2016 / 12:56 ICT

  • The rows of tiny bodies were lined up in pictures and look like they may have been killed recently.
  • This comes alongside reports that other animal parts have been found inside the temple as well.
  • The story broke mid-morning on Twitter when photojournalistDario Pignatelli posted a photo of the tiny tiger remains.

Thai DNP officers show 40 undeclared dead baby tigers found at 9:01 AM – 1 Jun 2016

  • A Khaosod English reporteron the scene saw animal entrails in containers, animal horns, a skull and an entire boar corpse.
  • The tiger temple is in the midst of havingtheir 147 resident tigers removed after years of accusations of animal abuse, drugging, trafficking and more. The temple denies the claims. Since Monday, 40 tigers had already been moved to new homes at Ratchaburi’s wildlife breeding research station.
  • If the baby tigers are recent kills, it would reflect very poorly on the temple and seemingly support claims against the temple that they were involved in illegal practices with the tigers to make profits.
  • The temple management, Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Yanasampanno, has fought the Department of National Parks for years over the tigers. They began to relent this week when the department secured a court order.
  • They haven’t completely relented though. The temple gates were locked tight when they showed up to take the first three tigers on Monday,Khaosod English

Related:

Vanishing Medicinal Plants of Kashmir Himalayas

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RED ALERT: The practice of using local herbs as medicinal remedies for a variety of health conditions is widely known in India. It is a knowledge that has been acknowledged by the world as India’s Ayurvedic medicine tradition. Even as modern drugs gain popularity, the tradition of using herbs to cure a headache, a cough, or a serious ailment like cancer still exists. But researchers from the flora-rich valley of Kashmir find how threats like tourism, overharvesting, even smuggling of herbs has led to the decrease in local medicinal plants in the last few years. Now these life-saving plants, need a safety net themselves.

This is a guest post by study authors Dr. Aijaz Hassan Ganie and Mr. Bilal A Tali, research fellows in Department of Botany, University of Kashmir. The present study was under Special Assistance Programme (SAP), Department of Botany, University of Kashmir.

Kashmir Himalaya harbours diverse habitats which support a rich floristic wealth that has been used as a resource-base by its people since times immemorial. Indeed Kashmir is known for its economically valued plants and their products, such as medicine, food, fodder, fibre etc. Owing to the rich and unique floristic diversity, a good proportion of plants are used as medicine in one or other form. The ethnic use of some of these herbs in medicine through folklore as well as in the documented form dates back to 3000-1000 BC and was in all probability the only means of curing and/or protecting the human population from various diseases. The therapeutic properties of these herbs is reflected from the view that most of these possess the bioactive principles, anti-cancer as well as anti-ageing (anti-oxidant) properties apart from antipyretic, asthmatic, diuretic and other properties.

Our present study revealed that about 650 plant species are being used as medicine in one or other form in Kashmir Himalaya. However, over the decades, a large number of these species have been rendered threatened due to various anthropogenic as well as natural threats.

Up to the year 2012, our research team have recorded 11 different types of threats operative to medicinal plants in Kashmir Himalaya which include, over-grazing, grass cutting, landslides/soil erosion, constructional activities /unplanned development, floods/flash floods, over exploitation/overharvesting, cement factory dust, mining/stone quarrying, conversion of forests and grasslands into agricultural land/ land use changes, alien species invasion and huge tourist influx.

Overgrazing – Overgrazing is the predominant threat as the grazing animals damage the flowering spikes of the Medicinal Aromatic plant species (MAPs) and thereby restrict their population size and distribution; the best examples are species of the genus Inula, Fritillaria, Corydalis, Rheum, Saussurea etc.

corydallis sp.

Overharvesting – These medicinal plant species are also overharvested legally or illegally from the wild for local use, the examples are Rheum webbianum, Arnebia benthamii, Picrorhiza  kurroa etc.

Unplanned development and Tourist inflow – The construction of roads and buildings along with the trampling by the locals and tourists have negatively impacted the populations of various MAPs. Cutting down of forests at an unprecedented rate have drastically decreased the population of MAPs due to their habitat destruction (e.g. Different Orchid species, Podophyllum hexandrum, Atropa acuminata, Skimmia anquetilia etc.). The deforestation not only causes habitat loss, but also it results in habitat fragmentation, diminishing patch size and core area, and isolation of suitable habitats.

The unplanned development which include: construction of roads and buildings poses threat to different MAPs (e.g. Arisaema jacquemontii, Lavatera kashmiriana, Taxus wallichiana, Hyoscyamus niger etc.).

Landslides/flash floods – Eruption of landslides in the natural habitats is another threat to the existence of these species. A major portion of the flora in Kashmir Himalaya is subjected to the threat of landslides (e.g.  Ajuga bracteosa., Thymus spp.,  Tussilago farfara,  etc.).   The flash floods are operative threat to Digitalis and Caltha sp.

Exotic species – The invasion of exotic species particularly Anthemis cotula is threat to Cotula anthemoides. The land use change is another threat to MAPs, the species under this threat are: Inula racemosa, Colchicum luteum, Gagea gageoides etc.

Colchicum luteum

In addition to 11 threats operative in Kashmir Himalaya the intensive field surveys carried out during the present study revealed that 2 more threats, namely smuggling/ illegal trade and unregulated research work, have more impact than the aforementioned threats, and these threats have brought some of the MAPs on the verge of extension in Kashmir Himalaya.

Illegal trade – From Kupwara to Banihal, Shopian to Marwaha Wadwan, people are extracting the medicinal plants for illegal trade. The species which were smuggled at an alarming rate include:  Trillidium govanianum locally known as ‘Tripater’, Aconitum heterophyllun vernacular name ‘Patris/ Patis’, Fritillaria roylei commonly known as ‘Sheethkar’ and Picrorhiza kurrooa Kashmiri name ‘Koad’. The locals were observed extracting these plant species at the time of flowering and when asked why the herb was being dug at this stage they told us that they had been instructed by the contractor.

This practice not only removes the plant from its natural habitat, it also reduces the chances of the seed formation thus hampering increase in plant population.

It was also observed that a plant species Trillidium govanianum evaluated according to IUCN Regional Guidelines, as Least Concern (LC) in 2012,  had due to recent indiscriminate extraction now become threatened.

Trillidium govanianum, a species considered Least Concern may be threatened now according to the researchers

Unregulated research – The present study also revealed that unregulated research work in different institutes of the state have also rendered some of these MAPs threatened, particularly phytochemical studies for which a lot of plant material is needed. The medicinal plant species, namely Gentiana kurroo, Aquilegia nivalis, Atropa acuminata, Aconitum heterophyllum etc. are under tremendous threat from such type of studies.

A regulatory mechanism is needed at the institutional level, particularly at the time of assigning research problem to the student, and it is also the duty of Departmental Research Committees (DRCs) to evaluate the synopsis and also see the pros and cones of the assigned research problem.

The shrinking populations of MAPs is a matter of great concern as these plants are backbone of our traditional medicinal system with a large population still depending on traditional medicine. In addition, extinction of these plant species may also lead to ecological imbalance.

The Valley of Kashmir known for its beauty all over the world is also rich in herbal and floral wealth. The interest in knowing and admiring the plants in Kashmir has existed since times immemorial. In Kalhana’s Rajtarangini (1149-50 A.D.) we find mention of preservation of plants and plant products for medicinal purposes. Huien Tsang, who visited, “Kashmir yields saffron, lenses and medicinal Plants.” Sir Walter Lawrence in his “Valley of Kashmir” has observed that “Kashmiris turn nearly every plant to some use and attribute medicinal properties to every growing thing.”

Ayurvedic medicines have been in vogue in Kashmir since early times. Dridhabala an ancient physician of Kashmir is believed to have revised “Agnivesa Sambita” a monumental work on Ayurvedic system written by Kanishka’s court physician Charaka. The medicinal properties of various plants after having been ascertained in early times passed from generation to generation as trade secrets. Now such a stage has come when the common people scarcely have knowledge of medicinal properties of these plants since modern methods of chemical treatment have replaced the old indigenous methods employed by native Hakims.

Col. Sir R.N.Chopra, pioneer of Drug Research Laboratory (established in 1942) has recorded that “nearly three-fourth of the drugs used in the pharmacopoeias of the world grow in a state of nature in Jammu and Kashmir and as many as 42 essential oil-bearing plants are grown in the State. The standard of their principles is excellent and compared with the drugs grow else-where.” I have made an attempt to enumerate the plants which possess medicinal properties. It is based on sources such as “Forest Products of Kashmir,” by S. N. Koul, the then Conservator of Forest, 1928, “Valley of Kashmir” by Sir Walter Lawrence, 1895, “Wild Flowers of Kashmir,” by B.O. Coventry, 1923, “Gazetteer of Kashmir” by Charles Ellison Bates, 1873 etc.

A brief description of some of the medicinal plants found in Kashmir:-

KUTH – Its Sanskrit name Kashmirja implies its being indigenous to Kashmir. It is about five feet long herb growing along the higher elevations particularly at Tilel, Karnah. Kuth has been used in Indian medicine since early times. Its roots when dug up are cut into pieces, and used as aromatic, stimulant, stomachic and so on. Kuth root when pounded and mixed with sessanum oil is applied to a rheumatic limb. One part of powdered root when mixed with three parts of sugar is believed to cure stomach ulcers. Kuth was largely used in China and Japan. Stewart in his book on “Punjab Plants” published in 1864 informs us that in the year 1836 nearly 7000, mounds of Kuth were exported from Kolkata to China.

VIRKUM- The plant is found commonly near Srinagar-Tragbal and other areas. Its golden yellow flowers are the earliest ones to blossom in spring in Kashmir. Its fleshy underground corn and seed are used in medicines. Seeds and corn are collected in April and May respectively. Colchicines a well known remedy for gout and rheumatism is extracted from these parts of the plant.

TETHWEN- It is a white hoary shrub abundant in Kashmir. Santonin extracted from the plant is now well known as a vermicide. In 1924, Santonin was exported from Kashmir @ Rs 720 per Kg.

PYRETHRUM- Pyrethrum could be successfully cultivated in Kashmir after a few seeds were imported from Vilinorin, Paris in 1936. In 1945 its cultivation was extended to over two thousand acres of land with the sale proceeds of its yield at about two lacs of rupees. Pyrethrum is a well known insecticide and has also been employed in destroying farm insect and pests.

JOGI BADSHAH It is called the king of plants of the Yogis. It is a six inch high rare herb found at the elevations above 13,000 feet. Its red-purple flowers blossom in September and October. The large ball of pappus at the apex of the plant when boiled in milk and drunk is said to be a tonic. A decoction of its root in milk is said to be a cure for snake-bites, plague and all women ailments.

MAHA GUNAS- It is beautiful plant about two feet high found growing at Khilan Marg. From a distance it looks like a cobra. Its tuberous roots when pounded and mixed with Vaseline are said to sooth pain. It can also be applied to boils.

BUNAFSHA- It is found throughout the Valley particularly in meadows. Its flowers are used in Unani medicine as a cooling agent and in bilious disorders. Lawrence has recorded that these tiny flowers “used to be exchanged for their weight in salt.”

KAHZABAN- It is found frequently in Gurez and other higher elevations. The plant is used in Kashmir extensively by the Hakims in fever, throat diseases etc.

MAIT-BRAND- It is found all over Kashmir forests, particularly at Gulmarg and Lolab. From the leaves and roots of this tall herbaceous plant is derived Atropine. It is a powerful sedative and reliever of pain. A liniment made from the roots is a valuable application in case of rheumatism and neuralgic pains.

HUND- It is a herb found everywhere in the Valley particularly in meadows. In Kashmir homes it is a common practice to cook its green leaves and eat as a vegetable. Also these leaves are given to mothers after they deliver a baby. It has been found useful in Jaundice, and Dyspepsia.

BUMPOSH- It is found in Dal Lake and other marshes. Its root stock is green in dysentery and its white flowers are often used by the native Hakims and diaphoretic increasing perspiration.

SHAH TAR- The plant is found common at all elevations particularly in wheat fields. Entire plant is used as blood purifier in skin diseases. Its sharbat is also given in case of fevers.

CHARI LACHHIJ- The plant is very common and its seed is utilized as an expectorant and to give strength.

KHULFA- It is found all over the Valley and is commonly used in Unani medicines. Its seeds are diuretic (Increasing flow of urine) and astringent (arresting diarrhea).

BRED MUSHIK- It is both cultivated and growing wild in the Valley. Araq distilled from its sweet scented flowers is prized as a medicine being stimulant.

VAI- It is found in lakes. The root stock when taken in large doses induces vomiting. Otherwise it is stomachic

.VANWANGAN- It is common at Gurez and Gulmarg. Its berries are eaten as fruit. While as its roots yield Podophyllum resin.

BANBALNAG- It grows at high altitudes from 8,000 to 12,000, feet especially on Gilgit road and Khilan Marg. The alkaloid named Indaconitine is derived from its tuberous roots which are collected in summer for the purpose. Aconite is one of the oldest medicines used by Physicians in India in the treatment of fever and rheumatism and as a remedy for cough, asthma and snake-bites.

Besides the aforesaid plants there are much more such as PATHIS used in diarrhea, KAODACH from the stem and bark of which is extracted Rasaut to be used in skin diseases etc. BAZAR BANG from the leaves and seeds of which is extracted Hyoscyamine, and so on. The native hakims regard Pedulivium of the leaves of commonly found willow tree, as very efficacious in Cholera.

The medicinal properties of various herbs and flowers growing in Kashmir need to be publicized so that the local inhabitants particularly villages would not let these plants fall in waste due to lack of awareness. And there is need for saving this God gifted natural resource of Kashmir from smugglers and a wide programme needs to be launched by the government for their proper retrieval and sale which can become useful for the economy of Kashmir.

In a recent TV programme I heard a master chef from J&K stated that he found a brand of tea much in demand in 5-star hotels. On his investigation he found that it is the wild “Soi” leaves grown in the streets of Kashmir and after processing it comes in packs called NATAL tea. Incidentally I remember that the “soi” leaves were used to heal boils in my childhood days.