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“喜马拉雅伟哥”日渐稀缺,气候变化惹的祸?

更新时间:2016-6-28 18:13:26 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Climate Change Seen as Threat to Lucrative ‘Himalayan Viagra’ Fungus
“喜马拉雅伟哥”日渐稀缺,气候变化惹的祸?

BAGDANDA, Nepal — From a pasture high in the Himalayas, Tulsingh Rokaya, 55, a shepherd, watched for years as the number of itinerant harvesters swelled.

尼泊尔巴格丹达——来自喜马拉雅山脉一个高原牧场的55岁牧民图尔辛格·罗卡亚(Tulsingh Rokaya),多年来眼睁睁地看着流动采摘者的人数在不断壮大。

They came in search of what is known as caterpillar fungus, or yarsagumba in Nepali. A parasitic fungus, it forms out of the head of ghost moth larvae living in the soil at altitudes above 10,000 feet, and has been used as an aphrodisiac for at least a thousand years, earning it the nickname Himalayan Viagra.

他们是来寻找所谓的“虫草”的,尼泊尔语叫"yarsagumba"。这是一种寄生真菌,由蝠蛾幼虫的头部形成,这种幼虫生活在海拔3000多米的高原土壤中。虫草被用作壮阳药至少有1000年了,它拥有“喜马拉雅伟哥”的别名。

In the 1980s, the pickers used to trade the fungus for cigarettes and noodles. But as yarsagumba grew in popularity, it exploded into a multibillion-dollar industry spanning China, Singapore and the United States.

在20世纪80年代,采摘者用这种真菌换香烟和面条。但随着虫草越来越多地受到人们的喜爱,它迅速发展成为一个横跨中国、新加坡和美国的数十亿美元的产业。

During the picking season, which runs from late May to July, the number of harvesters in Bagdanda and two neighboring camps has often reached several thousands of people. But this season, with the fungus becoming scarce, the number is down to the hundreds.

在5月下旬至7月的采摘季节,前来巴格丹达和附近两个营地的采集者人数往往可达到几千人。但随着这种真菌变得越来越稀少,今年采集季节的人数已下降到了几百。

They still hike from a camp below, carrying metal picks to dig out the fungus, helping to produce an average regional harvest of 135 tons a year. Occasionally, they stop at Mr. Rokaya’s tent to buy sheep’s curd. Most of the time they pass through, teetering on a steep hillside where they spend the morning hunched over to find the fungus’s crooked black stem poking through the dirt.

他们仍从山下的营地徒步上山,手拿金属小镐把虫草挖出来,为这个山区平均每年135吨的产量做贡献。偶尔,他们会在罗卡亚的帐篷前停留,购买羊凝乳。但大多数时候,他们只是从这个搭建在陡峭山坡上的帐篷前路过,整个上午都在弯着腰寻找这种真菌露出泥土的弯曲黑茎。

Folklore has it that interest in the fungus stems from the startling performance of Chinese runners at an international track meet in 1993, which their coach attributed to their consumption of a soup combining the fungus with turtle blood. (Western competitors suspected something less exotic, namely performance-enhancing drugs.)

民间传说称,对这种真菌的兴趣,来自中国赛跑选手在1993年的一次国际田径运动会上令人吃惊的表现。他们的教练把成绩归结于运动员喝了用虫草和鳖血做的汤。(西方的竞争对手怀疑并不是出于这么具有异国风味的原因,而是由于使用了提高成绩的兴奋剂。)

With prices topping $50,000 a pound in China’s coastal megacities, harvesting of the fungus has helped to curb endemic poverty in the Himalayas, which stretch across Nepal, northern India, Bhutan and China. For hundreds of thousands of people living in remote villages, selling yarsagumba has become a primary source of income.

在中国的沿海大城市,虫草标价超过了每磅5万美元(约合每千克66万元人民币)。采摘虫草帮助改善了喜马拉雅地区普遍存在的贫穷状况。这一地区跨越尼泊尔、印度北部、不丹和中国。对于数十万生活在边远村庄的人而言,售卖虫草成了一项重要的收入来源。

A study by Nepal’s central bank found that harvesters earned an average of about $2,500, or 56 percent of their yearly income, selling the fungus. Money from yarsagumba has given some of the world’s most impoverished people access to electricity, hospital care and education.

尼泊尔中央银行的一项研究发现,采摘者售卖虫草的平均收入约为2500美元(约合1.7万元人民币),占他们年收入的56%。由虫草获得的收入让世界上最贫穷的一些人用上了电,看得起病,也得以接受教育。

“The whole Tibetan plateau is by now completely dependent on the cash influx,” said Daniel Winkler, a mycologist who has studied the caterpillar fungus extensively in Tibet. He estimated that over one million people in Tibet sell the fungus.

“到现在,整个青藏高原地区完全依赖这部分资金来源,”真菌学家丹尼尔·温克勒(Daniel Winkler)说。他在藏区就虫草做过大量的研究。他估计藏区有超过100万人在卖虫草。

But as quickly as demand for the fungus has surged, its supply has dropped sharply. Mycologists studying the fungus point to overharvesting as one reason. But another possible cause, some researchers now believe, is a warmer ecosystem precipitated by climate change, a phenomenon that may be more acute at higher altitudes.

虫草的需求迅速上涨的同时,供应量却出现剧烈的下滑。研究虫草的真菌学家认为过度采摘是出现这种状况的一个原因。不过一些研究者现在认为,还有另一种可能的原因:由气候变化引起的生态系统变暖。在海拔高的地方,这种现象或许更加严重。

“There are strong theoretical reasons as to why we might expect the rate of climate change to be faster higher up in the mountains than it is at sea level,” said Nicholas Pepin, a geographer at the University of Portsmouth in England.

“我们有充分的理论依据认为,气候变化的速率在山区会比在海平面更快,”英格兰朴茨茅斯大学(University of Portsmouth)的地理学家尼古拉斯·佩平(Nicholas Pepin)说。

Some of the most compelling data comes from the Tibetan plateau, where from 2001 to 2012, the increase in temperatures was between half a degree Fahrenheit and nearly an entire degree at weather stations above 10,000 feet. In the same decade, global temperatures rose by only about 0.2 degrees.

一些最具说服力的数据来自青藏高原。自2001年至2012年,那里的气温增长了0.5华氏度(约合0.3摄氏度),在海拔超过1万英尺(约合3000米)的气象站,增幅则达到将近1华氏度。而在同样的十年里,全球平均气温只增长了0.2华氏度左右。

Scientists say it is unclear why mountain ranges may be warming more rapidly than other parts of the planet. But Kamaljit Bawa, a biologist at the University of Massachusetts Boston, said failure to better understand warming in the Himalayas could have serious consequences for the region’s unique biodiversity.

科学家表示,目前还不清楚为什么山脉地区气温增速会比地球上的其他地区更快。不过,马萨诸塞州大学波士顿分校(University of Massachusetts at Boston)的生物学家卡迈勒吉特·巴瓦(Kamaljit Bawa)表示,倘若无法更好地理解喜马拉雅的气候变暖,可能会给该地区独一无二的生物多样性带来严重的后果。

“We have to make very rapid progress,” he said. “We can’t use the slow approach, the traditional, slow scientific approach.”

“我们得非常快速地取得进展,”他说。“我们不能采用慢的方式,那种传统的、比较慢的科学方法。”

Not for yarsagumba, apparently.

显然,用这种方式应对虫草问题是行不通的。

As harvesters returned from the pastures to Bagdanda on a recent afternoon, children gathered in the camp’s dusty thoroughfare and divided teams for a volleyball game. A mother held down her squirming daughter to pick lice from her scalp. Men congregated on trash-strewn dirt mounds and peeled strips of kutki, an herb used to treat vomiting and fever.

不久前的一个下午,采摘者从牧场返回巴格丹达,孩子们聚集在营地尘土飞扬的大路上,分组玩排球游戏。一位母亲按着她浑身扭动的女儿,给她抓头发里的虱子。男人们聚集在垃圾遍布的土丘上,给胡黄连去皮。这是一种治疗呕吐和发热的草药。

In a village below the meadows, Prithvi Budha, 60, a beekeeper who is sitting out the harvest to watch dozens of empty mud and stone huts, said less precipitation may be the cause for the drop in yarsagumba supplies.

在位于草原下方的一座村子,现年60岁的养蜂人普里特维·布达(Prithvi Budha)没有参加采摘,而是负责看守那几十座没人的泥石棚屋。他说降水减少可能是虫草产量降低的原因。

“We used to have snow up to here and up to here,” he said, pointing to his torso and his shoulders as he recalled a string of childhood winters.

“过去这里会下很大的雪,积雪能有这么高,这么高,”他说一边说,一边把手比到自己的躯干和肩膀部位。他在回忆童年时期的冬天。

Uttam Shrestha, a researcher at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia, said it was difficult to say why the supply of yarsagumba had dropped. Changes in temperature, he said, could be one of several factors affecting the supply of the fungus.

澳大利亚南昆士兰大学(University of Southern Queensland)的研究人员乌塔姆·什雷斯塔(Uttam Shrestha)表示,很难确定为什么虫草的产量会减少。他说气温变化可能是影响虫草供应的多种因素之一。

“We can draw some inferences,” he said. “Here, the fungus is very sensitive to the increase in temperature and so that could have an impact, but there is no empirical evidence yet.”

“我们可以做一些推论,”他说。“在这里,虫草对气温的上升是非常敏感的,所以它可能会有影响,但目前还没有实践经验的证据。”

Jir Bahadur Budha, 43, a farmer, said he was disappointed with this year’s harvest. He estimated that his family of six would collect only 400 pieces of yarsagumba, 200 fewer than last year and 500 fewer than the year before. The selling price for a single piece is about $3.50 in Nepal.

现年43岁的农民哥吉尔·巴哈杜尔·布达(Jir Bahadur Budha)表示,他对今年的收成感到失望。他估计今年家里六个人只能采到400株虫草,比去年少200株,比前年少500株。目前虫草在尼泊尔的单株售价约为3.5美元。

On a recent morning, Mr. Budha joined dozens of others in a pasture as a heavy fog set in. Within 10 minutes of searching, calls echoed from a few hundred feet away, where a teenager had spotted one of the day’s first pieces. Clawing away dirt from the larva’s body, the boy received a smattering of congratulations. He had found a good piece.

不久前的一个上午,布达和另外几十个人在浓雾弥漫之时走进了牧场。开始搜寻不到十分钟,几百英尺远的地方传来喊声,一名少年找到了当天第一株虫草。扒开幼虫尸体上的泥土,他找到了一株品质不错的虫草,得到了零星的祝贺。

“Only lucky people find yarsagumba in the morning,” one man said.

“只有运气很好的人才能在早上找到虫草,”一名男子说道。

Mr. Rokaya, the shepherd, was cautious in his appraisal of the day’s pickings. Whatever the reason for the decline in yarsagumba, he said, it may be too late to salvage what has been lost.

对于当天的采摘,牧民罗卡亚的评价比较谨慎。他说不管是什么原因导致虫草产量下降,要挽回这里损失的东西可能都已经太迟了。

“No jobs. No money. What to do?” he said, thrumming his fingers on a gnarled cane. “We eat the rice that even donkeys and horses don’t eat.”

“没有工作。没有钱。能怎么办?”他一边说,一边用手指连续敲击一根弯曲的手杖。“我们吃的是连驴和马都不吃的大米。”

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