Legendary Parambikulam teak still growing

A scientific team measuring the girth of the Kannimara teak in the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.

A scientific team measuring the girth of the Kannimara teak in the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.

The legendary Kannimara teak of the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is still growing in height and girth. Over the last five years, the centuries-old teak has grown by 1.85 metres in height and 9 cm in girth, sending promising signals of hope for one of the largest and oldest teak tree in the world.

When a team of scientists from the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) and the Parambikulam Tiger Conservation Foundation jointly measured the Kannimara teak using modern scientific techniques on Monday, it brightened the hopes of not only the age-old teak, but the entire Parambikulam Tiger Reserve as well.

The teak was measured as part of the ongoing Vanamahotsavam. “The results are quite promising,” said Vysak Sasikumar, deputy director, Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.

When the tree was measured last in 2017, it recorded a height of 39.98 metres and a girth of 7.15 metres at breast height. The latest measurement showed that the Kannimara had touched 41.83 metres in height and 7.24 metres in girth at breast height (GBH).

“We measured the height using a digital clinometre, a simple device used to measure angles. We used tape and a rangefinder,” said P. Sujanapal, senior scientist of the Department of Silviculture, KFRI. “The teak looked robust and promisingly healthy. Its branching pattern too has improved,” said Dr. Sujanapal.

The girth was measured at breast height, that is 1.37 metres above ground level. Using the available scientific methods, the KFRI team will soon date the teak. “The initial calculation considering the GBH shows that it is 500 years old. But we will have to confirm it,” said Dr. Sujanapal.

The study team was led by National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) regional director K.C. Chacko. Apart from Dr. Sujanapal and Mr. Vysak, biologist Vishnu Vijayan also was part of the team.

Worshipped by the tribespeople of Parambikulam, the Kannimara teak remains a flagship of the tiger reserve offering a spectacular view to visitors. “It is a living monument representing a bygone era,” said Mr. Vysak.

For the tribespeople of Parambikulam, it is still a ‘virgin tree’. That was why they named it Kannimara (meaning virgin tree). The tribal legend has it that the tree had bled when people tried to cut it. So they protected it and started worshipping the tree by offering annual pujas.

The Kannimara tree had won the Union government’s Mahavriksha Puraskar in its first year of introduction in 1994. The award brought more attention to the tree and its glory spread further with people from different parts of the globe taking a pilgrimage to pay their admiration to it.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2022 10:14:28 am |