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Dancing girl dims Dampa tiger

The largest wildlife sanctuary in Mizoram, Dampa tiger reserve, has moved beyond big cats to grab the limelight. It has nurtured two incredibly rare ginger species, Globba spathulata and Hemiorchis pantlingii, and their presence has been reported for the first time.

By ROOPAK GOSWAMI in Guwahati
  • Published 4.05.18
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Globa Spathulata. Picture courtesy: Priya Singh

Guwahati: The largest wildlife sanctuary in Mizoram, Dampa tiger reserve, has moved beyond big cats to grab the limelight. It has nurtured two incredibly rare ginger species, Globba spathulata and Hemiorchis pantlingii, and their presence has been reported for the first time.

Globba spathulata is also called the "dancing girl" flower since its yellow corolla resembles a skirt, while the staminoids look like two arms. The species flowers for a short period during the monsoon, following which the rhizhomes become dormant and make it difficult to locate the plant.

A study by Pankaj Kumar from Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Hong Kong and Priya Singh from Researchers for Wildlife Conservation, National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, highlight the presence of rare floral species in the protected landscape and a lack of ecological and conservation attention to the region.

The finding has been reported in the current issue of Journal of Threatened Taxa. "It also elaborates the fact that in an animal-centric conservation set-up in countries like India, a tiger reserve may also have some plants that may need our attention but have been neglected since the constitution of the Wildlife Protection Act of India, 1972," Kumar told The Telegraph. Mizoram has 86 per cent of its geographical area under forest cover.

Singh said "While they are being reported from Dampa tiger reserve for the first time, we believe this is so only because no rigorous surveys have been conducted to assess the floristic diversity."

A conservation assessment conducted for both species, based on their existing global distribution and potential threats, identifies the species as vulnerable. Both the species were found in 2014.

Dampa tiger reserve in Mizoram is located in the Lushai Hills of western Mizoram, along a transitional zone with the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. The core area of the reserve covers less than 500 sq. km, and supports tropical evergreen, tropical semi-evergreen and tropical moist deciduous forests.

"Both these plants flower for a very short period, and hence may be difficult to locate in the wild. Their presence in Dampa is an indication of the rich botanical diversity of the area that requires as much attention as rare mammals. Hence, management activities prescribed for such protected areas mainly with mammalian species in mind must be considerate towards native floral diversity," Singh said.

Globba spathulata was photographed at an approximate elevation of 1,020m.