As they planted the trees, what they forgot was that small lizards called skinks suddenly found themselves homeless. The Pondicherry University did a study of 15 grids of a quarter acre to understand what affected the skinks. They found 21 skinks per grid of 2005 square meters on the beach. This was before the forest department planted casuarina trees extensively under a World Bank project. The idea of the plantation was to create a bio-shield to reduce impact of hazards like Tsunami.
The number of skinks sighted came down sharply from 21 to 9 per hectare. This was likely due to casuarina providing shade that prevented skinks from basking in the sun. The government removed the trees in 2008 because of pressure from Turtle Conservationists. The skinks numbers increased to 16 per hectare after that.
So what’s the lesson? Can you imagine the impact our large-scale projects are doing to our fauna and millions of species? That’s a sobering thought.
(Pic source: aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu)