Arunachal`s anti-cancer yew trees under threat

Anti-cancer yew trees, Taxus, found in Arunanchal are suffering from the cancer of over-exploitation.

New Delhi: Anti-cancer yew trees, Taxus,
found in Arunanchal Pradesh are suffering from the cancer of
over-exploitation and are under threat of disappearance in the
absence of regulation, researchers point out.

Taxus or yews being a primary source of taxol used in
the treatment of ovarian and breast cancers and kaposi`s
sarcoma (an AIDS related cancer) and over 20 such other
indications is in huge demand in the pharma industry.

It has also its usage for coating of stents
(anti-angiogenesis), Alzheimer, multiple-sclerosis and
polycystic kidney disease.

According to an estimate a 20-year-old tree can yield
up to 30 kg of leaves and 5 kg of bark which in turn produces
4 gm of taxol priced at Rs 3 lakh.

The demand has taken toll on this valuable natural
resource leading to its rapid disappearance, researchers found
during a survey last year in the West Kameng district of the
North-eastern state, where maximum occurrences were reported.

"Merciless and mass exploitation has converted the
area into a death valley of Taxus trees. Out of the 145 total
plants located, 105 were found to be dead trees," say
researchers Gibji Nimachow, JS Rawat and Oyi Dai from Rajiv
Gandhi University in Itanagar in the latest edition of
"Current Science."

The areas visited were Domkho, Morshing, Sanglem,
Khelang, Phudung,Mandala, Dirang, Bomdila, New Bomdila and
Palizi-Ramda where large-scale exploitation of Taxus plants
has taken place during 1990s.

Stressing on its conservation for the welfare of the
humankind, the study has stressed on systematic strategies
through larger community awareness, community participation,
suitable propagation techniques, in situ and ex situ trials,
demonstration, financial and infrastructural assistance,
adequate remuneration.


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