Conserving Ophiocordyceps sinensis in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, India

Pramod Kumar Yadav

Caterpillar fungus also called Kira Jari locally, is endemic to the Tibetan Plateau and the adjacent alpine Himalayas. Over the last few decades, the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (NDBR) dwellers have become astute to the commercial potential of Kira Jari (Ophiocordyceps sinensis). Thus, the caterpillar fungus boom is facilitating the integration of rural upper Himalayan households into a regional, national and international economic cycle by providing the necessary product and cash in exchange for sharing in this commodity trade but it has also added pressure on the ecosystem and created social conflicts. Ultimately, increasing trade induced over-harvesting seems almost certainly responsible for declining populations. This assignment will explore natural habitat, trade, impact due to over-exploitation and conflicts among community during harvesting in the study area. The project will aim to undertake sampled questionnaire surveys by Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) methods, involving stakeholders and aim to establish a management and strategy plan for the species. Through this study we will design a strategy for conservation as well as sustainable harvesting practice of the fungus for a better future and prosperity for stakeholders.