Monday, November 19, 2012

Foreign nations patenting Indian plant, animal species.

The 11th World Conference of Parties —II (COP–II) was organised in Hyderabad from October 1 to 19 where 193 nations had joined. The main focus was on ecological diversities and their safety.
India is the first nation which raised voice for conservation of biological diversities in the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi convinced the world leaders on the importance of conservation of biological diversities. For the first time, the world recognised that the ecological assets should be given due attention so far as their conservation is concerned.
First, an international treaty was signed among 193 countries to protect the global biodiversities. India was also a signatory to it.
The biodiversities was given a global identification beyond national boundaries.
The conservational success of India are Asiatic lions in Gir forests of Gujarat, Gharials of Chambal valley and horned Rhinos of Kajiranga in Assam which attracted the attention of the Hyderabad conference.
These species are now given the status from critically endangered to endangered species. Thanks to the efforts of the respective State administrations, now these species are safe. There is distinct geographical distribution of plant and animal species. It depends on the habitat and climatic conditions. So protection measures ought to include the protection and conservation of habitat and its environment.
When we speak about ecological biodiversities, we always mean terrestrial ecology but the oceanic biodiversities are much wider and vaster. The conservation measure should save and explore the new world of biodiversities which are still unknown. Due to mismanagement of terrestrial as well as oceanic world, many species are on the verge of extinction. So the details of biological complex of each country should be known to every human member nation and the property right of each species should be clearly specified.
In the recently held conference, the member nations were confused over the geo-climatic origin of many species and hence the property rights over them. There was much confusion over the property rights of the nation over species like Ongole Bull, Punganur cow, Pulsa fish and Red sanders, among others. These animal and plant species belong to Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
The species occupy the Eastern Ghat and western corridors of India specially influenced by the Bay of Bengal and several hills. Ongole Bull is very famous for its delicious roast. Now Brazil claims the property rights over the species. Again Punganur cow, whose milk contains only 8 per cent fat, is claimed by the western countries. The Pulasa Fish is generally found in the river mouth of the Godavari. It is an estuarine species. The fish is also found in the river mouth of the Mahanadi. But due to wanton pollution of water, its population is dropping fast. Further, it has recently been found by the Japanese that this fish cures cancer and other fatal diseases. The oil of the fish is also very useful. Taking the weakness of the Indian Administration, the Japanese Government is attempting to claim property ownership of the species. The fish is as delectable as hilsa.
The most amazing thing is that Red sanders, generally noticed in the foothills of the Eastern Ghat, is soon going to be slip out of our hands. It is an endemic tree of the Deccan plateau, found most luxuriantly in AP and Gajapati district of Odisha. This species is found at 1,500 ft altitude and needs deep mineral-rich soil. Its wood has medicinal properties. The Maharajas of Gajapati used to supply Red sanders for use of Lord Jaganath. Its wood is very valuable and takes good carving and polishing as compared to other species of the family.
Its sister species is Piasal. The massive trunk of Red sanders attracts the western countries, which are now trying claim property right over it. Similarly, Basumati rice and turmeric which are indigenous Indian products are now being claimed by the some western countries as theirs.
Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who first advocated for Jibe Daya (compassion for wildlife) pitched for the protection and conservation of ecological diversities across the globe. The Indian Government should be very cautious about our property right on animal, bird and plants. If we do not object to the claims by foreign countries on our local species, it will be a great loss.
(The writer is a former senior forest officer and an environmentalist)

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