Horns locked

Horns locked can feral goats actually survive on seawater? This is the crux of a controversy embroiling the ruminant that inhabits the volcanic Barren Island, situated 135 kilometres from Andaman and Nicobar Islands' capital Port Blair. Even as research conducted by the Central Agricultural Research Institute (cari) suggests that the animal consumes sparse foliage and saline water, a recent study has challenged these findings.

Over the past eight years, cari has been doing experiments to solve the livestock problem of drought-affected regions. The institute's scientists are convinced that feral goats could be reared and multiplied on several other islands facing an acute scarcity of freshwater. Their efforts had so far won them international acclaim, with many reputed journals publishing their research.

But doubts have arisen ever since a team of specialists from India and Italy carried out detailed geological, volcanological, geochemical and geothermal investigations on Barren Island a few months back. The group was led by D Chandrasekharam, department of earth sciences, Indian Institute of Technology (iit), Bombay.

During the expedition, the scientists discovered two freshwater springs towards the southeastern part of the caldera

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