The deer menace | ring-barking or girdling of Boswellia serrata

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raghu ananth

May 23, 2009, 10:07:16 AM5/23/09
We saw this tree - guggala dhoopa - Boswellia serrata Var.glabra (BURSERACEAE) with its bark removed/eaten(?) up. Locals over here say the the sambar deer (Cervus unicolor) with its long horn  rubs the bark of this tree and eventually removes it (ring barking or girdlin) completly.  The tree with its bark stripped would die soon. We saw two such trees without its bark.
The bark of this tree is considered to be sweet, cooling and tonic.
Local Name (Kannada) : guggala dhoopa
Hindi Salai
Scientific Boswellia serrata Var.glabra (BURSERACEAE).
Bolpe reseved forest, Kukke,  Western ghats
Photo date: 25 Mar 2009
From wikipedia
the process of completely removing a strip of bark (consisting of Secondary Phloem tissue, cork cambium, and cork) around a tree's outer circumference, causing its death.
Girdling occurs by deliberate human action (forestry and vandalism), accidentally (as in the case of new saplings tethered to a supporting stake), or by the feeding actions of
some herbivores (who feed on bark at their height). It is most commonly used as a deliberate method of thinning forests and by farmers to yield larger fruits.

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Yazdy Palia

May 23, 2009, 12:32:37 PM5/23/09
to raghu ananth,
Hi Friends,
Dears removing bark, Elephants knocking down trees in the forest have
been happening since the centuries. It can not be termed a menace.
As long as man does not interfere in nature, nature will take care of
it. It can not be compared to the decimation of thousands of acres
that man has committed. It can not be compared with the damage that
the forest department has committed by introducing thousands of acres
of teak plantation. The animals have been deprived of their natural
food. It has forced the macaques from leaving the forests and seeking
food in plantations and orchards.
The girdling done by settlers near forests is many times more than the
girdling done by deers. Politicians open up plots for settlers who are
given 3 to 5 cents of land near forests commit much greater harm than
the poor deers. These settlers forage for firewood in the forests and
when there are no dry twigs or branches girdle small trees and when
they dry up cut them down for firewood.
No my friends, deers do not do a fraction of the damage done to nature by man.


May 23, 2009, 1:16:36 PM5/23/09

Sir, I endorse your views wholly and totally that it is only we
human-beings who are responsible for DESTROYING our precious forest
and wildlife. We have lost so much of our medicinal plants in the
Himalayan region slowly and steadily- as forests have been cleared by
us for various reasons which cannot be supported.


Purnima Dutta


May 23, 2009, 1:26:41 PM5/23/09
to indiantreepix
It is a very interesting situation, we should discuss the matter with
open mind. Once Salim Ali declared that Parkeets are real menace, as
they destroy our crop cosiderably, sending wide spread protest. When
we have a natural population ,we can leave the matter to the Nature.
But our to-day's world is not that natural. In Sundarbans, the deer
population was under control as long as tiger population was normal.
But now with the dwindling population of the predators, deers may turn
to be menace. It has happened in many protected areas. In this
situation some thing needs to be done. Salim Ali was no less bird
lover than any one else. In some pockets of S. India, the elephant
population has grown so fast, due to protection, that the new
generation of the animals are no more so well developed due to
scarcity of fodder as their earlier generation. As we have already
altered the nature to such an extent, we have to think over what to do
to keep our endangered wild life population healthy.
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Yazdy Palia

May 23, 2009, 2:23:08 PM5/23/09
to sibdas, indiantreepix
Dear Mr. Sibdas Ghosh,
Parakeets have always been eating up our crops since centuries. At the
same time, nobody speaks about the insect eating birds that have been
playing such an important role in protecting our crops from insects.
Again, the parakeets have taken to our crops because man has disturbed
their food chain to such an extent that they are forced to change
their eating habits. What we could do is educate people about the
importance of birds and animals in protecting plants and trees.
For example, I had made a little study of birds that prey on serious
pests of Robusta coffee and published an article in the magazine
Indian Coffee. The result was that a lot of people who were using
pesticides in controling these pests got to know that if an atmosphere
was created for birds like the speckled Peculet and birds like the
tailor bird, the population of these pests could be kept under
I live at the edge of a forest in Wyanad in Kerala. My coffee holding
skirts the wyanad wild life sanctuary. We have animals coming into our
holding and come quite close to our home. On many a morning I can see
deers from my bathroom in the morning. On many an occasion we hear
their alarm call. Our neighbours lay traps and on many an occasion, I
go out and free the animals that are trapped. We have wild elephants
coming into our holding almost every night during the jackfuit season.
Man has encroached upon their migration corridors. Corridors that they
have been using since centuries. Monoculture has destroyed their food
chain. These forests were full of fruits, bamboos and plenty of other
trees that was part of their food chain. If we only allow nature to
play its part, we could have the forests back on track and come close
to what it was before man's intervention.
You are right about the predators. Man has decimated their numbers and
the population of deers are shooting up. Leopards come close to our
home now and then. Man in order to protect their cattle or goats, go
to the extent of poisoning them. The result is that the population of
deers and even monkeys go up.
I am convinced Mr. Sidbas that if man leaves nature alone, most of
these imbalances would be corrected.


May 24, 2009, 12:39:54 AM5/24/09
Quoting Yazdy Palia <>:

Once again I endorse your views completly and wholly. We have been
disturbing the animal world for our benifit only - not realising that
time will come when we will begin to understand that money alone
cannot help us to survive in this world.
Trees are vanishing along with so many medicinal plants because of
timber merchants and short-sighted policy of our govt. Animals are
getting extinct because we want to grab their domain for human
population explosion. We need to protect our biodiversity and remember
that if one strand of the food-chain is broken - we are in for trouble.



Yazdy Palia

May 24, 2009, 12:58:56 AM5/24/09
Hi Ms. Purnima,
The communication here makes me feel like reaching an oasis in the
desert. The point is where do we start?
I wish more people get involved in educating the importance of our Biodiversity.

Rakesh Biswas

May 24, 2009, 1:18:15 AM5/24/09
to raghu ananth,
Another similar recent example I came across in a Van Vihar organized nature study camp is the porcupine eating away at Tendu bark creating girdles.
I agree with Yazdy that the damage is miniscule compared to what 'the most dangerous animal on this planet' has done.

Shekhar Marathe

May 24, 2009, 2:56:51 AM5/24/09
to Rakesh Biswas, raghu ananth,

Dear friend,
There is a difference in the terms girdling and debarking. The first one is done by humans to kill the standing tree. The trees die and also get hard and dry at the site it self. I have seen it in Nagari ( Jharkhand) .in Dehradun and Thane and gadchiroli ( MS). This is mostly done by the tribals and the villagers to clear up the forest areas for cultivation. The debarking is done by wild animals to escape the food shortage period. Mostly done by the elephants in the Rajaji and Corbett during summer when the grass is not available. The tusks of the elephants is a major device for debarking. I have also seen sanmbar and chitals of that area
urs friendly
shekhar marathe  

Pankaj Oudhia

May 24, 2009, 3:04:31 AM5/24/09

Yazdy Palia

May 24, 2009, 3:08:58 AM5/24/09
to Shekhar Marathe, Rakesh Biswas, raghu ananth,
Dear Mr. Marathe,
One of the major culprits in and around the forests of Khandala are
the small restaurant owners. They pay the poor tribals a pittance to
collect firewood from the forests and supply them for their needs. You
can see it daily on stations like Monkey hill etc. The tribals make
bundles with hooks made from iron rods and hang it on the window rails
of trains. They disembark at Khandala/ Lonawala and supply them to the
restaurant owners. Unless an end is put to this practise, there will
be no forest left around Khandala.

On Sun, May 24, 2009 at 12:26 PM, Shekhar Marathe
<> wrote:

raghu ananth

May 24, 2009, 6:56:17 AM5/24/09
to Yazdy Palia,

Dear Yazdy and group members,


Perhaps, I used the word 'menace' a little hastily.

For me, both flora and fauna are equally important and I have never favoured one over the other and my view is to be ready to conserve if any of them is threatened or on the verge of decline because of exploitation by humans. Nature has its own way of dealing with population increase. Further, not all wild habitats witness an increasing trend in wild life population. The forests in these areas have already been encroached decades back save for a few patches here and there.  The wild life has to struggle in these shrunken habitats for its food, territory, reproduction  and more importantly to survive human threats - hunting, poaching and degrading the habitat (felling of trees). . With no proper awareness and full protection from the Govt. or locals, there are many forests which are shrinking.If a deer feeds on a plant it should not be of major concern as long as the plant is in some IUCN threatened red list.

There are several other areas which we need to be aware off - human involvements threatening the biodiversity, forest etiquettes and manners,  lack of public awareness 


Unplanned fast highways and railways with no consideration for wild life that cross them (during migration and otherwise) is causing a significant loss. High tech buses touch 100 kms and more in the forest highways.  Tiger, deer, hyena, python, king cobra and even elephants have died in road accidents (showcased in wild life photo exhibitions, news paper reports and postings by nature photographers).  Even then new highway projects are coming up in the name of  reducing  time to connect major cities



Established gangs and merchants with official/political hierarchy support loot the forest products in day light, sometimes right before our very eyes! . Illegal mining, flattening of mountains, sand extraction inside the forest still exist. The Sandal wood trees are chopped and taken away by the tree brokers. It is unfortunate that trees like sandal wood are deprived of living out their life span. Most of the forest officials live in the cities rather than the forests. The local Govt. has made a recent rule making them to stay in forests for a few minimum years. Temporary forest workers work with meager payment without attaining permanent status. Locals burn the forest in summer to create problems for forest officials and giving them a bad name. Laws should be stringent and punishments should be severely enforced for the offenders. Overall system needs to be stream lined and there should be a healthy respect and fear for misusing of forest resources.


We have a pristine wild habitat with great bio diversity here and no mindset or interests to conserve. Educated people throw plastics and other garbage everywhere they listen to loud music, shout and dance inside forests. When do they start learning that conversations in forests had better be carried out in whispers? Noise is detested by wild animals and they move further away. MNC employees from cities come to forests and play football and cricket. (after all these are team building exercises!)  From a young age, a child starts throwing stones at lizards, frogs and snakes. There is definitely a lack of fundamental learning, etiquette and manners as when city dwellers (including also the locals) come to the forests. Common people have the attitude – `Its enough and tiresome to solve we humans day to day needs and prevailing problems, why that additional burden - wild life care. (In US, I have seen rather small scrub forests deer that have been given high status and conserved nicely enough - full of instructions to create public awareness - no more than 10 vehicles at a time, no littering, not to take even a small stone out etc. People themselves are matured and follow all etiquettes and manners by themselves. )

Mass awareness and education through all means (especially for the younger generation) with regard to conservation, protection of habitat, expansion, etc may be of little hope. Nature groups  should continuously bring to the notice of the Govt, Newspaper and people of the importance of wild habitats and its conservation. (Sometimes I wonder about the awareness levels and attitudes of  people (with power- state and central leaders ) towards wild life and its conservation.  We do not see statements encouraging the protection of our flora and fauna from our President, Prime minister, Chief ministers … or business leaders - Tatas, Ambanis, Narayanmurthys ...When will they start working, campaigning or promoting for the cause of wild life. Messages from leaders and celebrities may easily reach large audience.


We definitely need revolutionary and very strong Leader(s) here!


Thanks again




--- On Sun, 24/5/09, Yazdy Palia <> wrote:

From: Yazdy Palia <>
Subject: [indiantreepix:12529] Re: The deer menace | ring-barking or girdling of Boswellia serrata
Date: Sunday, 24 May, 2009, 10:28 AM

Hi Ms. Purnima,
The communication here makes me feel like reaching an oasis in the
desert. The point is where do we start?
I wish more people get involved in educating the importance of our Biodiversity.


>>>> given 3 to 5 cents of land near forests commit much greater harm than

>>>> the poor deers. These settlers forage for firewood in the forests and
>>>> when there are no dry twigs or branches girdle small trees and when
>>>> they dry up cut them down for firewood.
>>>> No my friends, deers do not do a fraction of the damage done to
>>>> nature by man.
>>>> Regards
>>>> Yazdy.

>>>> > ________________________________
>>>> > Explore and discover exciting holidays and getaways with Yahoo!
>>>> India Travel

>>>> > Click here! >- Hide quoted text -
>>>> - Show quoted text -
>>> >
>> >
> >

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