Friday, April 1, 2011

The strange Bamboo flower!




While on a recent fam tour of the Serai Kabini I saw the Bamboo in flower really close. Its been months since I noticed it on our trips through Mysore to the jungles of Nagahole and Bandipur. All the Bamboo are this strange goldy colour, and look dead from a distance.

Apparently in the past, when the bamboo flowered it meant there was going to be a famine and this has been believed by the people of the NE and Burma.
According to a scientific journal http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/feb102002/261.pdf this is a common occurrence among grasses. They flower profusely and die. Whole clumps just wither away leaving many species of animals who depend on the bamboo for food like elephants and Pandas starving.

One little clump can produce pounds of seeds, as much as 800 to 1000 in an ounce which causes a population explosion in rodents like rats. They multiply in huge numbers and feed on the seeds. Once the rains come and the seeds germinate the rats have nothing to eat, so enter neighbouring farms and fields and decimate the crops.

The famine of 1862 in Mizoram is well documented. It was in Mizoram in the '70's that the rat population exploded to 2.5 million. Since they follow the slash and burn style of cultivation farmers are exposed to rodents destroying their crops since their farms are in the midst of bamboo clumps.

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