1 October 2013 Anthropogenic Disturbances Led to Risk of Extinction of Taxus wallichiana Zuccarini, an Endangered Medicinal Tree in Arunachal Himalaya
Ashish Paul, Sanjeeb Bharali, Mohamed Latif Khan, Om Prakash Tripathi
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Species extinction is the major biodiversity crisis in the twenty-first century. Today, anthropogenic activities are causing extinction of many species of ecological and economic importance. Arunachal Pradesh, home of high biodiversity and endemism, has many species facing tremendous stress which are on the verge of extinction. Taxus wallichiana, an endangered tree species distributed in temperate forests, has the anti-cancerous chemical Paclitaxel (Taxol®). It has other important uses in Ayurveda, Tibetan, and Unani medicine. Currently, Taxol is recognized as the most effective drug for a variety of cancers. Owing to its high economic demand, unsustainable extraction, and over-harvesting, the species ranked in the endangered category and is at risk of extinction in Arunachal Himalaya. Regeneration from seed is very poor due to a long dormancy period (nearly 18 months) and it is slow to reach maturity in nature. Moreover, consumption of fruits by birds, monkeys, rats, etc., is causing regeneration failure. A very few populations survive in isolated pockets and they will become extinct in the near future if proper conservation measures are not initiated. Conservation measures either by in situ or ex situ, with community participation, can be undertaken. In situ conservation can be exercised by establishing sanctuaries, parks, reserve forests, etc. Ex situ conservation could be practiced by cultivating the species in gardens, parks, and also by tissue culture techniques. Furthermore, mass awareness and motivation of local people for large scale cultivation and preparation of bonsai to a certain height to harvest the leaves without damaging the whole tree may reduce pressure on wild populations. This may meet the market demand as well as conserve the species and will boost the rural economy while also providing employment opportunity for the local inhabitants.

Ashish Paul, Sanjeeb Bharali, Mohamed Latif Khan, and Om Prakash Tripathi "Anthropogenic Disturbances Led to Risk of Extinction of Taxus wallichiana Zuccarini, an Endangered Medicinal Tree in Arunachal Himalaya," Natural Areas Journal 33(4), 447-454, (1 October 2013). https://doi.org/10.3375/043.033.0408
Published: 1 October 2013
anthropogenic disturbances
Paclitaxel (Taxol®)
Taxus wallichiana
unsustainable extraction
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