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Sacred groves in state under threat: Report

Sacred groves in state under threat: Report

Thiruvananthapuram: The sprawling patches of sacred groves, the rich abode of biodiversity seen in and around villages across Kerala, are on the verge of extinction due to large-scale construction following demographic changes.

Known as 'sarpakavu' or 'kavu' in local parlance, sacred groves are traditional places of worship with some of them having idols of snakes and goddesses.

The increase in number of construction of new buildings in the place of ancestral homes, which used to house sacred groves in its premises, have virtually led to the destruction of this biodiversity system, a recent report by state Assembly Committee on Forest, Environment and Tourism said.

The report also said indiscriminate grazing in the last few decades, uncontrolled felling of trees for firewood and changes in the pattern of worship (from nature worship to temple) have also contributed to the dwindling of groves.

"Groves are home to a large number of rare flora and fauna, including those facing extinction threat. As many as 475 species of birds, 100 species of mammals, 156 species of reptiles, 91 species of amphibians, 196 species of fishes and 150 varieties of butterflies can be seen in the groves in the state," it said.

The report, prepared by the Committee chaired by state Minister for Forest, Sports and Cinema Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, had been tabled in the ongoing Assembly session on March 10.

Though there were about 10,000 groves in the princely state of Travancore before the formation of Kerala, only over 1,200 of them remain now, it said.

Coastal district Alappuzha has the highest number of groves, while high-range districts of Idukki and Wayanad have the lowest number, it said.

"Iringorkavu", spread over 2.5 acres in Perumbavur in Ernakulam district, is the largest grove in the state, it said.

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