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one hot season, when the whole of the grass covering the ground below is burnt in the annual conflagrations. Thus a large percentage of the seeds of the teak never germinate at all. It is clear, then, that if these two species were growing together, on soil equally suitable for both, the sâl must possess an immense advantage in the 'struggle for life' over the teak. And if to this natural advantage be added an adventitious one, in the fact that the teak is much more generally useful to man-particularly to man in a primitive state-as is really the case, there seems to be a sufficient reason why the teak should disappear before its rival in tracts where the latter has obtained a footing and is equally suitable to the soil and climate. Now an examination of the tracts on which these trees are found in Central India shows that, while the teak does not appear to shun any particular geological formation, it thrives best on the trap soils which predominate in the south and west of the Province. But the sâl, on the other hand, clearly shuns the trap formation altogether. Not only is it unknown within the great trappean area to the west of the eightieth degree of longitude, but even to the east of that line, in its own peculiar region, it does not grow where isolated areas of the trap rocks are found. Further, I believe that in no part of India where this tree grows is there any of the trap formation. With the exception only of this volcanic rock the sâl appears to thrive on any other formation, being equally abundant within its own area, where primitive rocks, or sandstones, or lateritic beds predominate. Thus I believe that the sâl, where the soil is suitable, that is where there are no trap rocks, has exterminated the teak, of which it is a natural rival. In other parts of India, where the teak does not meet with this rival, as in Malabar and Burma, it flourishes on the soils from which it is here excluded by the sâl. The general conclusion appears irresistible, but sharp contrasts perhaps best illustrate such peculiarities. Many such might be mentioned, but two in particular are very noticeable. Within the sâl region, in the hills immediately to the east of the town of Mandlá, there is a considerable area covered by teak, to the total exclusion of the sâl. The whole of this region is composed of a trap overflow; and all around it, as soon as the granitic and lateritic formations recommence, the sâl again entirely abolishes the teak. Again, within the area of the trap and teak, in the valley of the Dénwá River, 150 miles west of the furthest limit of the general sâl region, is

found a solitary isolated patch of the latter, occupying but a few square miles. Here the sâl grows on a sandstone formation. It is surrounded on three sides by trap rocks, and there it entirely ceases, and is supplanted by the teak as the principal timber tree. But how to account for this small and unimportant outlier of the great sâl belt? To maintain our theory some link to connect them together should be found. I think that a hypothesis, much less extravagant than many which are introduced into such arguments, will do so. Towards the fourth side of the sâl patch in the Dénwá valley lies the great open plain of the Narbadá into which the sandstone formation extends, and passes on along with primitive rocks, and with little interruption from the trap, right up to the main body of the sâl forest at the head of the Narbadá valley. The sâl, it is true, ceases in the open Narbadá valley, but so does all forest, the country having been completely cleared and cultivated for many generations. It is not then a very violent assumption to suppose that the sâl forest at one time extended down the Narbadá valley as far as the Dénwá, and that, when the country was cleared, this little patch alone was left securely nestled under the cliffs of the Màhádeo Range, in the secluded valley of the Dénwá, into which there was no road even until within the last few years.

These are strange facts. But it would be still more strange if a corresponding distribution of animal life could also be demonstrated. Something of the kind is really almost possible. Equally with the sâl tree several prominent members of the Central Indian fauna belong peculiarly to the northeastern parts of India. These are the wild buffalo (Bubalus Arni), the twelve-tined 'swamp' deer (Rucervus Duvaucellii), and the red jungle-fowl (Gallus ferrugineus). All these are plentiful within the area of the great sâl belt, but do not occur to the west of it, excepting in the sâl patch of the Dénwá valley, where the two latter, though not the buffalo, again recur. In the Dénwá valley there is but a solitary herd of the swamp deer, I believe; the red jungle-fowl are not so numerous as the rival species, G. Sonneratii, which replaces it in the west and south of India; and it is not surprising that the wild buffalo should have disappeared when his range had been reduced, by the clearance of the intermediate forest, to the narrow limits of this small valley. So large and prominent an animal requires a much larger range than deer and birds; and there is no part of the surrounding country suitable for

his habits until we reach the sâl tracts again, though very probably the extensive black soil plains of the Narbadá valley were so before they were cleared. In corroboration of the probability of his formerly having extended further down the valley than at present, skulls and horns have been found in the upper gravels of the Narbadá in no way differing, except in superior size, from those of the existing species. Their greater size is not surprising, as they are not larger than the horns still occasionally met with in Assam, where also the average size is stated to be now rapidly diminishing under the attacks of sportsmen."

It is of interest to remember that this remark was written some sixty years ago. What would Forsyth have thought of the position in this respect in the twentieth century?

"Two other large representatives of the eastern and western faunas, the wild elephant and the Asiatic lion, also appear to have formerly extended far into this region. In modern times, however, the advance of cultivation and the persecutions of the hunter have driven them both almost out of the country I am describing. The former, in the time of Akbar (as is ascertained from Abdúl Fuzl's chronicles), ranged as far west as Asigarh, but is now confined to the extreme east of the Province. Sir Thomas Roe, Ambassador from James I to the Court of the Great Mogul, in the seventeenth century, speaks of the lion as being then common in the Narbadá valley. It is now seldom heard of further east than Rajputàna, although a solitary specimen sometimes appears in their old haunts further east. A lion was killed in the Saugar District in 1851, and another a few years ago only a few miles from the Jubbulpur and Allahabad railway.1 The hog-deer (Axis porcinus) I have never met with in the west of the Province, nor is it very numerous even in the east, though very common in the sâl tracts of Northern India. The black partridge (Francolinus vulgaris) of Northern India does not extend into these provinces at all, its place being taken by the painted partridge (F. pictus), a very closely allied species. The great imperial pigeon of Southern India does not, I think, cross the Narbadá to the north, though not uncommon in the higher forests to the south of that river. Scientific research among the minor forms of animal and vegetable life (for which I have had neither the time nor the knowledge) may possibly elicit

1 The lion in India is now only met with in the small tract known as Gir in Kathiawar and in the wildest parts of Rajputana. E.P.S.

many confirmations of the law of distribution I have thus roughly stated from observations that have presented themselves to me as a Forester and a sportsman. This is worthy, I think, of further investigation."

Allusion has already been made to the fact (I, p. 392) that little was known on the forest resources of the Central Provinces when the Province was constituted. The areas were very large and by some were considered to contain inexhaustible forests. Others thought that the hopes built upon their resources as a source of supply of material for the railways would not be realised. But the true position of the forests was very far from being appreciated. It was only their detailed exploration which revealed the extent to which the forest areas had been exhausted of large timber. And their devastation was mainly attributable, as has been shown was the case in other parts of India, to the practice of shifting cultivation, known in Central India as "dhya." The method of procedure carried out by the aborigines in the Central Provinces was lucidly described by Forsyth and has already been detailed (I, p. 398).

Forsyth commented strongly on the absence of communications in the Province at the time. He pointed out that owing to this state of affairs the railways were importing pine sleepers from Norway and ironwood from Australia, as they proved cheaper than the carriage of sâl sleepers from the great untapped forests of this species in the Province. "There is something wrong," he wrote, "where this is the case, and that something is the want of a good road into the sâl regions from the railway at Jubbulpur, which road should have been made, for many other reasons (to open up the rich cotton soils to cultivation and export) besides this, long ago." About thirty years later the same state of affairs existed in a division in which the writer served as an Assistant, in Chota Nagpur, the Assansol-Nagpur branch of the Assam-Bengal railway being laid with iron "pot" sleepers instead of with sâl, although parts of the line passed through magnificent sâl forests. The surplus timber from these forests was subsequently cut and sent up to the United Provinces to sleeper a railway there, as will be described elsewhere.

The sâl forests of this region did not, however, escape devastation from the shifting or dhya cultivation. Thousands of square miles of sâl forest had been destroyed by the Bygas under this form of cultivation, the ground becoming afterwards

occupied by a dense scrub of low sâl bushes springing from the stumps. And, as mentioned by Forsyth, the largest trees were everywhere girdled by these aborigines to allow the gum resin of the sâl (the "dammer " of commerce) to exude. This dammer resin (called dhök in these parts) was extensively used at this period as a pitch in dockyards, and for coating commercial packages.


The common method of extraction was to cut a ring of bark out of the tree three or four feet from the ground when the gum exudes in large bubbles. Cuts made in several half circles are equally effective and do not kill the tree, as is the case with the former method. One of the first acts of the newly constituted Forest Department was to prohibit the ringing of sâl trees for the extraction of dammer," but the practice was still continued in the vast area of sâl forests in the Native States, which were amply sufficient to supply the requirements of the trade at that time. Practically the only commercial transactions of the Bygas with the representatives of the plains merchants was the sale of dammer and lac. These representatives journeyed annually into the hills with pack-bullocks and obtained the dammer and lac in exchange for salt, beads and arrow-poison.

Fortunately Forsyth leaves us a lucid description of the position of the teak forests of this region as existing at the period.

"As regards the teak forests, the supply available for railway uses had already been much reduced from the causes mentioned. A good deal was, however, still left in the remoter forests, where communications were not so easy; and the forests, if properly taken in hand, might have yielded a steady supply of large timber for many years. But unfortunately the grave mistake was now made of announcing that after a certain time the forests would be brought under Government management and strictly conserved. This was the deathblow to the remainder of the teak throughout the northern parts of the tract. The railway contractors and numerous speculators, foreseeing the value that timber was likely to acquire, owing to railway operations and the closing of the forests, then went into the jungles with bags of rupees in their hands, and spread them broadcast among the wild tribes, with instructions to slay and spare not-to fell every teak tree larger than a sapling that they could find, and mark them with their peculiar mark. It was only too faithfully done;

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