Context: The Wildlife Institute of India has sought permission for a pilot project to check the expansion of the invasive plants threatening the rhino habitat.
- Kaziranga has had to deal with encroachment, poaching, and annual floods for decades. But none of these has been as damaging to the health of the 1,300 sq. km tiger reserve as the green invaders that have gone under the radar until now.
- This is the first time that such species have been identified with threat estimation.
- Regenerate at an alarming speed and threaten to edge out the indigenous flora
- Some of the invasive plants have a toxic impact on the landscape after remaining underwater, which is often for two months every monsoon.
- Some weeds have herbal properties, but their toxicity outweighs their utility. For instance, wild boars love to gorge on the succulent rootlets of the Leea macrophylla or ‘kukura thengia’ that is fast clogging the patrolling paths and grasslands.
Invasive Species discovered
- Ipomoea (Ipomoea carnea)
- Mimosa (Mimosa himalaica)
- Parthenium (Parthenium hysterophorus) is believed to have come to India as contaminants in a consignment of wheat imported from the U.S. in the 1950s
- Lantana (Lantana camara) was brought by the British as ornamental plants from South America two centuries ago.
- Bombax ceiba (locally called Semul)
- Largestroemia speciosa (locally called ejhar)
- Cestrum diurnum or day-blooming jasmine of West Indies origin; otherwise a source of vitamin D3. Once the modalities are finalised, this weed can be turned into a commercial crop for the people in the vicinity of Kaziranga. Pharmaceutical companies need tonnes of dry leaves of this plant periodically
- Cane is a commercial plant that is threatening to be an invasive plant in Kaziranga.
Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve
- It is a national park in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam.
- The sanctuary, which hosts two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses, is a World Heritage Site.
- Kaziranga is recognized as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for conservation of avifaunal species.
- Kaziranga has the largest population of the Wild water buffalo anywhere accounting for about 57% of the world population.
Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros
- Also known as Indian rhino, it is the largest of the rhino species.
- India is home to the largest number of Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros in the world.
- At present, there are about 2,600 Indian rhinos in India, with more than 90% of the population concentrated in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park.
- Habitat: The species is restricted to small habitats in Indo-Nepal terai and northern West Bengal and Assam.
- In India, rhinos are mainly found in
- Kaziranga NP, Pobitora WLS, Orang NP, Manas NP in Assam,
- Jaldapara NP and Gorumara NP in West Bengal
- Dudhwa TR in Uttar Pradesh.
- Poaching for the horns
- Habitat loss
- Population density
- Decreasing Genetic diversity
- Protection Status:
- IUCN Red List: Vulnerable.
- CITES: Appendix-I
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I.
Source: The Hindu