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Climate change threatens ‘Himalayan Viagra’ fungus, and a way of life
July 29, 2017
A Himalayan fungus used in Chinese medicine, which underpins the livelihoods of communities of harvesters in Nepal, is under the threat due to climate change.
Harvesting the Cordyceps sinensis fungus, called ‘yarsha gumba’ in Nepal, provides a livelihood for Himalayan dwellers. The fungus fetches up to Rs 2,800,000 (£20,000) per kg in raw form. During the peak season of yarsha collection, locals drop everything to pursue fungus hunting, including their usual profession. Even schools remain closed during yarsha collecting seasons.
The fungus grows on the head of the larvae of caterpillars and locals crawl on hands and knees to find it. The work is hazardous in the high altitude regionswhere the fungus grows, with hunters young and old regularly succumbing to exposure.