19th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Natural World
Parthenium Epidemic

Parthenium hysterophorus is a toxic weed that was accidentally introduced to India by trade routes. This plant aggressively colonizes the disturbed sites to become ubiquitous in certain regions of India. This is called the “Scourge of India” for its disastrous effects on farmland. My latest trip to a jungle is disheartening. This has infested the western ghats and started spoiling the ecosystem. The plant produces chemicals and pollens that suppress other plants and spread allergens that affect animals and humans. It causes dermatitis and bitter milk disease in humans and in livestock, no doubt this has much more effect on wild animals. This valley is full of Parthenium. Merely touching this plant can cause allergies, this can get into their feed. Its suppression of edible plants growth started affecting the food chain. This is like an epidemic in the woodlands, while the entire world survived the COVID pandemic, let us focus on the bio-war that this toxic weed embarked on the environment. This has the potential to blow a hole in our ecosystem and engender the flora and fauna of the forests. There is an urgent need to approach this problem with scientifically-informed management policies, to reduce the toxic impact in the animal habitat.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 08.2021
Date Uploaded: 11.2021
Photo Location: Bandipur, India
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Copyright: © John Robert