Thiruvananthapuram: Found only in some parts of the world is gopher tree, which Biblical patriarch Noah used to make the famous ark on God`s command to survive the great deluge.
But one such is still standing robust in the forest in the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Kerala.
Botanists have confirmed that at least a single gopher is standing there on the fringes of a forest path between Kochu Pamba and Gavi in Pathanamthitta district.
The Bible (Genesis 6:15) says, Noah, as ordered by Lord, made the ark out of gopher wood on which he and his kin and some of earth`s fauna outlived the great flood that submerged the planet.
According to King James` Bible, God told Noah: "make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark; and shall pitch it within and without pitch."
The tree standing at Gavi forest is of robust stem and lush foliage.
According to state Forest Department officials, though the fully-grown gopher in Gavi is the only such tree sighted in the periphery of the jungle, possibly there could be more such trees still surviving in the inner forests of PTR.
Though it is a rare tree, the Forest Department has refrained from marking it as special by putting a sign board, fearing that would attract forest brigands.
"The tree, which is identified as `gopher`, is known as `Nirampalli` in local parlance.
Its belongs to the `tropical conifer` family of trees, Abdul Basheer, Manager, Kerala Forest Development Corporation, said.
"We have not fixed any name-board on as we fear that it might prompt the wood smugglers to cut it and sell as it could fetch a big price on account of its Biblical association," he said.