Criminally negligent fake ex-situ conservation of supposedly 'Critically Endangered' Himalayan species

Towards the 'Conservation of Some Select Critically Endangered Endemic Angiosperms of Kashmir Himalaya' project which was awarded an Indian Rupees 400,000 Small Grant Award through the 'National Plant Conservation Programme'. 10 species were chosen. This project followed on from, 'Recovery & restoration of some Critically Endangered Endemic Angiosperms of Kashmir Himalaya' (unfortunately,  two of the five covered are not Endemic to Kashmir). When I visited KUBG a few years later there was no sign of any of these plants.  If they cannot be maintained in KUBG (which most of them never stood the slightest chance of surviving in) then they do not qualify as being under 'Ex-Situ' conservation nor then, it is impossible to 'Recover & Restore' them in the wild. The process for the initial 5 species consisted of 41 plants of Aquilegia nivalis being dug-up - all of which rapidly became deceased KUBG, which if their population size was so small, this would have caused serious harm and perhaps even led to the species becoming extinct in these locations; 90 plants of Lagotis cashmeriana - all of which rapidly became deceased at KUBG,  which if their population size was so small, this would have caused serious harm and perhaps even led to the species becoming extinct in these locations; 66 plants of Aconitum kashmiricum being dug up, all of which rapidly became deceased KUBG, which if their population size was so small, this would have caused serious harm and perhaps even led to the species becoming extinct in these locations, please note there is considerable doubt as to what this taxon is; 19 plants of Megacarpaea polyandra (these are large specimens with extensive roots), all of which rapidly became deceased KUBG, which if their population size was so small, this would have caused serious harm and perhaps even led to the species becoming extinct in these locations; as for Saussurea costus, 41 plants were dug up; I wonder if these were from wild populations or not; this plant is grown in large quantities in Lahaul (in the bordering state of Himachal Pradesh), where almost everyone with even a small plot of land at suitable elevations, grows it, thus, if the material transplanted to KUBG was from cultivated sources, then this would be of little consequence but it is difficult to judge is 'wild' distribution these days.

Clearly, digging up plant species considered at high risk of becoming extinct (which is what 'Critically Endangered' actually means) is inexcusable, not least for species that stand no chance whatsoever of tolerating the conditions in the KUBG.  I would go so far as to saying such conduct is criminal and
should be made illegal.  Chris Chadwell knew that 'alpines' do not cope well in Srinagar, as did P.Kohli & Co., who established themselves (and their nursery) in Srinagar back in 1928!  Why are Indian botanists unwilling to seek advice from Westerners?


Visited by Chris Chadwell in 2012 © Chris Chadwell


Chris Chadwell lecturing on Kashmir plants to staff and researchers in Botany Department, University of Kashmir, prior to presenting the department with a 'Kohli Memorial Gold Medal' on behalf of the Himalayan Plant Association, in recognition of its contribution to the study of Himalayan flora.


Centre for Biodiversity & Taxonomy (CBT) which houses the University of Kashmir Herbarium (KASH) - botanical (pressed specimens) of plants collected in Kashmir have been deposited by Chris Chadwell.  During visits Chris has taken herbarium specimens collected by University of Kashmir botanists for verification of identification at Edinburgh Botanic Garden Herbarium (E).  A duplicate set of pressed specimens collected in the Suru Valley by Chris Chadwell's team during the University of Southampton Ladakh Expedition 1980 were deposited here.   © Chris Chadwell


Typical Nursery Bed in University of Kashmir Botanic Garden - note the hot, dry conditions in August, unsuitable for growing 'alpines' such as Aquilegia nivalis.   © Chris Chadwell

Young plants of Arnebia benthamii in Kashmir University Botanical Garden, doing well in August 2012 but did it reach maturity & flower?  Is this species still being grown there in 2018?  It was listed there in 2007. © Chris Chadwell


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