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Fact Box: Cobra Lily

The rare cobra lilies scientifically known as Arisaema translucens has been rediscovered in the western Nilgiris by nature enthusiasts K.M. Prabhu Kumar and Tarun Chhabra after a gap of 84 years. One species of the lilies were found in Thia Shola while the other was spotted in the Pennant Valley forest area of the Nilgiris. It was last collected by E. Barnes in 1932 and described by C.E.C Fischer in 1933.

Salient features

The cobra lilies have a distinctive translucent spathe. The indigenous Toda tribals of Nilgiris are capable of predicting the early arrival of monsoon from the blooming of the cobra lily’s ‘translucens’. The Toda tribals have an embroidery motif called ‘podwarshk’ resembling the cobra lilies.

It is estimated that only a few hundred cobra lily plants are found in the wild that too in a very small area measuring less than 10 square kilometres in the Nilgiris. Of the lilies present in the Nilgiris, only two are endemic. These lilies are found in shola tree patches. Along with the disapperance of the Shola tree patches, the lilies too have disappeared in the past few decades.

The plant prized for its beauty around the world are at greater risk of extinction from the commercial trade in exotic plants.

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May 23: World Turtle Day

Every year May 23 is celebrated as the World Turtle Day as an annual observance aimed at protecting turtles and tortoises and their rapidly disappearing habitats across the world. The celebrations was started in 2000 by the American Tortoise Rescue (ATR). Since then it is celebrated every year to create awareness about the world’s oldest living reptiles in the world.

Threats in India

Smuggling 

The greatest threats faced by the turtles and tortoises in India is smuggling. They are smuggled every year in large numbers to East Asian and Southeast Asian markets. They are smuggled live to these countries. Apart from the live specimens, the eggs of sea turtle are dug up and sold as delicacies in the South Asian countries. The state of West Bengal has emerged as one of the focal points of turtle smuggling. Despite efforts of the government, turtle smuggling remains as a lucrative business in India.

Other Threats 

Turtles also threatened by several man made issues. One of the major threat is habitat destruction. The turtles which are found in Ganges and other major rivers in the country faces habitat destruction as these rivers are increasingly getting polluted. Sea turtles also suffers from the pollution of seas and beaches. Many turtles are dying every year by eating plastics.

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