The Telegraph
Thursday , June 5 , 2014
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Book documents 2600 species of plants and animals

- Biodiversity conservation project will help scientists & students of life sciences, hopes RPRC expert

Bhubaneswar, June 4: Scientists of the Regional Plant Resource Centre (RPRC) have come out with an interesting book on the 2,600 species of plants and animals found on their campus. It includes 461 animals and 2,139 species of plants.

The institute, established by the state government 30 years ago for conservation of plant resources, boasts of a rich collection of rare cacti and succulents, plants with fragrant flowers, wild berries, edible fruits, orchids and bamboo species.

The RPRC is spread over 487 acres. Popularly known as Ekamrakanan, its campus is located in Nayapalli and Bharatpur villages within the limits of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation. On one side, it also shares a common boundary with the Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary.

RPRC chief executive and member-secretary of Odisha Biodiversity Board Shashi Paul said: “Biodiversity conservation should be an important aspect of our curriculum in schools so that more and more students will be interested in the conservation of our flora and fauna. Educational institutes and research bodies should come out with data books on the biodiversity so that we can have an overall idea about biodiversity pool in the city.”

RPRC principal scientist Pratap Chandra Panda, who is also a well-known taxonomist, said: “The book on biodiversity will help scientists, nature lovers, researchers and students to learn about the diversity on the institute’s campus. It also throws light on habitat modification, increased activities and land use patterns in adjoining areas of the RPRC.’’

Due to the increasing popularity of applied science such as biotechnology and molecular biology, many students are showing less interest in taxonomy studies these days.

“Our effort in bringing out so many types of plants and animals from a 487-acre campus will definitely help students in picking taxonomy as their specialisation at postgraduate level,’’ Panda said.

The RPRC scientist also added that across the world, it had become a major problem to get taxonomist for studying plant species.

“Studying plants and discovering new species can also help the society in getting new varieties with many medicinal qualities. So, the students should develop a likeness towards the subject,’’ said Master Apollo, a botany lecturer. Apart from important plant species, the RPRC book documents 148 species of birds, 38 reptiles, 15 amphibians, 15 fish, 58 insects, 104 butterflies and 41 dragon flies present on the campus.

Two years ago, Regional Museum of Natural History carried out a survey and their scientists found about 100 butterflies on their campus.

“We did not have a printed book like the RPRC. But, we have to carry our more seasonal surveys so that the exact number of plant and animal species is known. If universities, institutions and even schools and colleges can take up this type of activities, we can also contribute towards biodiversity conservation in a greater way,” said G.N. Indresa, in-charge of the museum.

“While documenting the biodiversity and involving young students, we can inspire them to take up interesting career opportunities involving biology and natural sciences,” Indresa added.