Part one of two:
The other day in one of the local paper something unique caught my eye… the giant African snail (Achatina fulica, Shanka pulu or Gonne pulu – shanka means cone and gonne is snot) is wreaking havoc on farms and plantations across the region. Kodagu is used to little peaceful ones like indrella ampulla, an endemic tropical terrestrial air-breathing gastropod mollusk. Even with about 100 rows of teeth, the colourful indrella ampulla lived in harmony feeding mainly on large fungi, blending well with the nature. But these nasty hitch-hikers or imported new comers were solid ones which unlike the earthly indrella ampulla are invasive, ruthless, jaunt and rapidly proliferating. In fact these African giants with its veracious apatite are considered as one among the 100 worst invasive species in the world.
It all started as a small innocent hitchhiking… according to Mr. Vijay Hangal in the kodagu daily paper “Shakthi”: in 2015, along with the Gobbara (manure) brought in a lorry from Mandya district to Kodilipet hobli of Somwarpet Taluk arrived a single snail. Looking at it, one of the workers just discarded it besides the plantation… now in 2017 it has multiplied into millions so far effecting 250 acres of cultivation. These great strategists, whose mantra is sex, production and more production, so far have managed to conquer Handli, Bellaralli, Keralli, Shirangala in clusters distressing the farmers and planters who are already distraught with shortage of rains.
These species, mostly nocturnal, non-social interacting only when mating, solitary without any bond or responsibility of raising the young ones spend their time moving, eating, resting and of course coupling. So they just eat and eat and grow, lay their egg and more eggs and more long leisurely Sex with anyone on the way! Thankfully they don’t normally use their ability to self-fertilize and resolve to mate in traditional way. An adult can weigh upto 32 grams and the conical and narrow attractive shell can reach upto 7.8 inches in length and 4 inches in height. It has a life span of 5-7 years or more, depending upon the weather and food availability particularly rich in calcium in any form. If uncontrolled this could be the greatest threat to the peaceful people of Kodagu in whole, who have faced threats time and time again from outsiders in different forms-shapes-colours. Seems like the only thing which can surpass its ability to multiplicity is the black money supply in India!
Though native to Africa these giants easy adoptable and can breed in an unimaginable speed because of their unique sex life. More to come on that in my next part!
Without a defined breeding period, they can lay upto 1,200 eggs annually and with a hatch success probability of 90% under right condition. Though some keep it as pets, this also said to carry parasites and can transmit various diseases to both animals and humans. If unchecked, these silent menacing pesky little creatures could create problems in totality equal to all the Rajas, Nayakas, Tippu, British and the modern politicians who have, in the 3,500 history of Kodagu, used it as their personal battle ground.
India vastly depends upon the rain for its agriculture and drinking. The Indian economy is heavily dependent on agriculture and the livelihood of the Indian farmer largely depends on the monsoon rains directly or indirectly. The water situation is so dire, PM Modi even sought advice and help from Israel and according to PM Netanyahu, Modi told him I have to take care of India’s interest, I need more water, clean water. Where will I get it… for once if all the politicians of India keep their baggage of personal greed and gain aside and think like PM Modi, India would be a better place.
Kodagu located in Western Ghats is one of the hot beds of biological diversity in the world recognized even by the UN. Once a beautiful and tranquil district, home to the life giving River Kaveri and her three tributaries is already under severe stress and in the brink of disaster. Kodagu is the principal catchment area for lifeline river Kaveri providing almost 50% of the total inflow, providing 70% water to KRS which supplies water to 80 million people and industries as far away as Bangalore, and then on to Tamil Nadu. Sadly neither the biodiversity nor the benefits reaped is respected or made any effort to save because of greed, profiteering, etc., along with unwise absurd ideas of politicians who uses it as a ground to score their personal grudge spreading malice.
Particularly since the last 10 years or so the district has seen drastic changes such as commercializing -including resorts and large hotels-, without even a second thought and without adhering to proper rules and procedures passing the projects to fill the pockets with Gandhi. Unwarranted tree felling for example last year alone 55,000 trees were cut for the sake of constructing a 400KV High tension power line from Mysore to Kozihkode in Kerala. Man cannot dictate terms with Mother Nature and everything including the cloud seeding come with a price, massive reduction in rain fall and it is going to get worst. Moreover, reduction in rain and high cost of labour has seen extinction of paddy cultivation which indirectly reduced the ground water table as there isn’t enough time for land to absorb water. Sadly the heavy loss of greenery in every form is going to be a disaster to the entire ecosystem. On top of it the bamboo on the river banks is either cut and sold, or after the bloom is dead and of course the sand mafia.. they are sucking it like leeches and have changed the shape of the river and creek beds too. It’s a real sorry state of affair.
Sadly to fill the bottomless pit of man’s greed there is no room left for humanity. Corruption is rampant in the state from a chaprasi to the top… Kodagu is just over 4000 sq kms and can it take all that the government is shoving through her throat? I hear that a railway line project is underway… wonder the assortment of Gandhis changing hands! Such a project would call for massive felling of trees and disturbing the landscape as well as further pollution. We have been witnessing the result of such actions all around the world and Kodagu is not going to be an exception. Eventually over milking will not leave a drop for the milkman itself. The way things are going pretty soon, say in less than five years not just Kodagu but Bangalore (and major parts of Tamil Nadu) is going to face acute shortage of water bringing the states into its knees. However, the imprudent, ignorant, insensitive politicians with ferocious appetite for magenta Gandhis are not going to heed as long as it is flowing into their coffers. Sadly general public aid them directly or indirectly out of ignorance.
These hoarders can import food/water or wipe their asses with the black money but what a poor common man should do… These two legged menace and their rampage and ravage was not enough now unfortunately a new trouble is brewing. Sad indeed.
Hope PM Modi will intervene and do something worthwhile for the district too.