Overharvesting turns ‘Himalayan viagra’ into a ‘vulnerable’ species

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News: The world’s costliest fungus, Ophiocordyceps sinensis also known as Himalayan Viagra has entered the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s(IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Facts:

  • Ophiocordyceps sinensis: It is a caterpillar fungus endemic to the Himalayan and Tibetan plateau and found in China, Bhutan, Nepal and India. 
    • In India, it is primarily found in Uttarakhand in the higher reaches of districts ke Pithoragarh and Chamoli.
  • Other Names: It is locally known as Kira Jari (in India), Yartsagunbu (in Tibet) and Yarsagumba (in Nepal).
  • Significance: It is used as a tonic and a therapeutic medicine in Tibet and China.In recent times, it has also been widely traded as an aphrodisiac.
  • Conservation Status: It has been listed under the ‘vulnerable category’ as per IUCN Red List.