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Preliminary observations on ecological and economical impacts of bamboo flowering in Mizoram (North East India)

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Gregarious flowering of bamboo Melocanna baccifera, followed by famine, is locally known as 'Mautam' and appears to occur in an established cycle in Mizoram, North East India. This cycle has been reported to have occurred in 1815, 1863, 1911 and 1959, a regular interval of 48 years. Thus, it is predicted that the next cycle will occur in 2007. The gregarious bamboo flowering in the hilly areas of the state, expected for 2007, has caused panic among the tribal people who fear a possible food crisis and epidemic due to rodent outbreak during bamboo flowering. It has been suggested that famine following bamboo flowering is a result of a combination of two factors. First, it has been reported that the seeds of M. baccifera are eaten by the rodents which enhances the rodents' reproductive ability. Second, the outbreak of rodent populations causes severe losses to paddy crops. Famine is an extreme outcome and there is a need to conduct systematic investigation to determine if these factors are indeed contributing to the famine. The natural ecological phenomenon of flowering has significant ecological and economical impacts on the affected areas.


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