The biodiversity of the midland laterite hillocks of Blathur, near Irikkur, has drawn the attention of green activists as a survey conducted earlier identified several species of flora and different species of butterflies.

The first phase of the ‘Blathur Biodiversity Study’ recorded 450 species of flowering plants in the area.

The survey was conducted jointly by the Society for Environmental Education Kerala (SEEK), Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad (KSSP), and local Wikipedia activists.

The second phase of the survey, which has just begun, will cover the laterite hills of Oorathur and Kallyad.

SEEK secretary V.C. Balakrishnan said the biodiversity-rich laterite hills of Blathur should be declared ‘Laterite Biodiversity Heritage Site’ to ensure their protection.

Water reservoir

He said that the laterite hills in the area served as a reservoir of water. Reckless laterite mining in the area, including in ‘puramboke’ lands, was causing major threat to their ecosystem, he added.

The green activists who are now involved in the second phase of the survey have identified 50 more flowering plants, including Strobilanthes integrifolius, which flowers once in seven years.

They also include rare and endemic flowering plant species such as Andrographis atropurpurea and Humboltia brunonis.

500 flowering plants

So far, they have sighted 500 flowering plants, 95 butterfly species, including the rare species Blue Pansy, 40 species of dragonflies and damselflies, 60 species of birds and 20 species of amphibians, among others.

The survey is part of a year-long initiative to study the biodiversity of the midland laterite hills in the area to draw people’s attention to the importance of conserving them.