150-acre land of flora and fauna cries for attention

150-acre land of flora and fauna cries for attention

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HYDERABAD: As real estate boom consumes open spaces of Rajendra Nagar in the suburbs of Hyderabad, a piece of land measuring 150 acres in Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University(PJTSAU), being preserved by the university as ‘Agro-Biodiversity Park’, serves as an oasis of a wide range of local flora and fauna.

The Agro-Biodiversity Park is home to at least 124 plant and tree species, 172 species of birds, 56 species of butterflies, 24 species of insects, eight species of reptiles, various species of toads apart from small mammals like field rabbits and even wild boar. Even an endangered plant species, Ceropegia bulbosa, was discovered in the park earlier.

It is not just these plants or animals which make the park special. The agro-forestry department of the university, which maintains the park seasonally, plants traditional (old) varieties of agricultural crops, from which seeds of the much-used hybrid varieties have been derived and now sold in the market, to protect their germplasm. Till now, 10 such traditional species of paddy and three species each of red gram and safflower have been planted.

Dr A Krishna, principal scientist and head, All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on agro-forestry, PJTSAU, said, “The Agri-Biodiversity Park was established in 2008 with the aim of conserving and preserving native varieties of flora and fauna, including agricultural crops of Deccan Plateau. We also undertake plantation of various local species like teak, neem, mahua tree (ippa), ficus species, tamarind and medicinal plants.”

The Agri-Biodiversity Park is one of its kind in India. However, support from the state government is required if the park is to serve its purpose. Dr V Vasudeva Rao, the principal scientist and ornithologist at PJTSAU, one of the scientists associated with Agri-Biodiversity Park since its inception, said, “In 2015, I had proposed a plan to the state government’s agriculture department on the steps needed so that the park can actually help in preserving agri-biodiversity of Telangana. However, there has been no response  from the government until now.”

Some places there was an infestation of alien invasive plant species like Parthenium, indicating the need for regular weeding. However, lack of enough financial and manpower resources has become a hindrance to taking up such work by the university.

Acidic Lake?

A recently-published study on the park titled, ‘Agro-biodiversity Park for Conservation and Preservation of Native Flora and Fauna in Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University, India’, in the Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology has some shocking findings. The study reports that an analysis of water samples from the lake revealed pH value between 6.4 and 4.6. It was also reported that the chloride level in the lake is very high.

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