Invasive weeds threatening tiger habitats in Adilabad

A recent camera trap picture of a tiger ambling through invasive weeds in Kadem forest in Nirmal district.

A recent camera trap picture of a tiger ambling through invasive weeds in Kadem forest in Nirmal district.  


They are responsible for decrease in the population of herbivores, which are prey to the big cats

It was way back in 1992 at the Rio de Janeiro Convention on Biodiversity that biological invasion of alien species of plants was recognised as second worst threat to the environment after habitat destruction. But, nothing much was done subsequently to contain the spread of invasive weed species in environmentally-sensitive areas like former composite Adilabad district, where plants are threatening to obliterate pastures from precious habitats.

And like never before, Adilabad is now in need of grasslands for herbivores to thrive and in turn support the swelling influx of tigers from forests across the border in Maharashtra.

“Action should be taken to stem the propagation of invasive weeds as well as remove those that have already propagated as they do not allow the grasses palatable to wild herbivores to grow,” opined a forest official as he contemplated the issue at hand.

All the camera trap pictures of tigers emerging from forests anywhere in the erstwhile district show the majestic wild animals ambling through thickly grown invasive species weeds. The pictures not only disclose the extent of spread of the weeds, they also show that the big cats are using the thick growth along trails as camouflage.

During the last decade or so weeds like hyptis and parthenium have occupied almost all of the forest floor in places where the presence of forest department is restricted to protecting trees only. “The weeds are responsible, among other things, for decrease in population of herbivores in many areas in the erstwhile district,” opined E.N. Murthy of the Botany Department, Shatavahana University, Karimnagar, who, along with Vatsavaya S. Raju (Kakatiya University, Warangal) and C.S. Reddy (Forestry and Ecology Department, National Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderabad) has conducted an assessment of the impact of invasive alien species, hyptis suavolens in protected areas of Southern India which was presented as a paper at the World Conference on Biological Invasion and Ecosystem Functions at Porto, Portugal in October 2009.

“The problem of weeds like hyptis and cassia tora has not become alarming yet but we have started taking care of it,” affirmed Field Director, Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR) C.P. Vinod Kumar, who is also the Chief Conservator of Forests. “We are developing some 280 hectares of grasslands, about 70 per cent of those in KTR and the remaining outside the Reserve,” he revealed.

“We are also planning to double the grassland area next year in order to aid herbivore population growth. The target for collection of grass seeds from our own fodder plots has been set at one tonne,” he added of the measures being taken to improve habitats.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 1:40:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/invasive-weeds-threatening-tiger-habitats-in-adilabad/article29650000.ece

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