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Thursday, December 25, 2014

National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries of India

A summary Table of some significant Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks is given below -


Bandhavgarh National Park
Bandhavgarh National Park is spread across the Vindhya hills of Madhya Pradesh, over a coverage area of approximately 437 sq km. The topography of the park is characterized by sharp ridges, surging forests and open meadows

Bandipur National Park
It is situated on the Mysore-Ooty Highway, at the confluence of Deccan Plateau and Western Ghat Mountains. The wildlife park falls under the Chamarajanagar district of the South-Indian state of Karnataka.

Jim Corbett National Park
It is situated in the foothills of the Himalayas and comes under the state of Uttaranchal. The park was established in the year 1936 and at that point of time, it was known as the Hailey National Park.

Dachigam National Park
It is situated in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, at a distance of approximately 22 km from the Srinagar district. It is spread over an area of 141 sq km and boasts of some of the most beautiful locales in the country.
Desert National Park
It is located in the Jaisalmer city of Rajasthan. Stretching in the Thar Desert, over an area of 3150 sq km, the park serves as the perfect example of its ecosystem.

Dudhwa National Park
It falls under the Lakhimpur-Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh. It is situated along the India-Nepal border, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Spread over an area of 490 sq km, the park stands bounded by Indo-Nepal border in north and by Suheli River in the south.

Gir National Park
It was established in the Junagarh district of Gujarat, is spread over an area of 1412 sq km. The park holds the distinction of being the only natural habitat of Asiatic Lions in the whole world. The park holds the distinction of being the only natural habitat of Asiatic Lions in the whole world.

Kanha National Park

This Park is one of the most famous habitats of the tiger in the whole world. The park is situated amongst the Banjar and Halon valleys of the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Keoladio Ghana National Park

It is situated in the Bharatpur city of Rajasthan, is one of the major attractions of India. There is an interesting story behind the establishment of this park.

Manas National Park
Manas National Park of India boasts of amazing wildlife as well as picturesque beauty. The park is situated in the Kamrup district of the northeastern state of Assam.
Nagarhole National Park
It is situated at a distance of approximately 96 km from the Mysore city of Karnataka. Sharing its boundary with Bandipur National Park, the park covers an area of approximately 643 km.

Nanda Devi National Park
It is situated in the Chamoli district of Uttaranchal. One of the most magnificent backwoods of the Himalayas, the park rises to an altitude of 2,400 to 6,817 m.

Periyar National Park

It lies nestled in the Western Ghats, falling in the Idukki district of Kerala. The lake that constitutes a major portion of the park came into existence after a dam was constructed on the Periyar River, in the year 1895.

Rajaji Natyional Park
It is situated in the state of Uttaranchal, now known as Uttarakhand. The picturesque beauty and rich biodiversity of the park serve as its major attractions for both nature lovers as well as wildlife enthusiasts.
Ranthambhore National Park
It forms a part of the Sawai Madhopur District of Rajasthan. The park is nestled on the intersection of the Aravalli hill range and the Vindhya hill range.

Sariska National Park
It lies nestled in the Aravali Hill ranges of Rajasthan. One of the most popular national parks of India, Sariska falls under the Alwar district. Once the hunting reserve of the royal family of Alwar, Sariska was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in the year 1958.

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary
Sultanpur National Park and Bird Sanctuary falls under the Gurgaon district of Haryana. It is situated on the Gurgaon-Farukh Nagar Road, at a distance of approximately 50 km from Delhi and 15 km from Gurgaon.

Sundarbans National Park
Sundarbans National Park forms a part of the largest delta created by the Ganga and Brahmaputra Rivers. Its core area is made up of the largest mangrove forest in the world. 
Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary
It is located on Ranchi Jamshedpur road in Jharkhand.It principally houses elephants.
Valley of Flowers National Park
It is nestled in the Himalayan ranges of Uttaranchal. The park spreads over an area of 87.50 sq km and was declared as a national park in the year 1982. 
Little Rann of Kutch Wildlife Sanctuary
It is situated at a distance of approximately 93 km from the Ahmedabad city of Gujarat. Spread over an area of approximately 4950 sq km, the sanctuary counts amongst one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in India. 
Mudumalai National Park
is situated in the state of Tamil Nadu, stretching over the forest belt between the Western Ghats and the Nilgiri Mountains. While crossing the highway connecting Mysore and Ooty, you will come across this picturesque park, which comes under the Nilgiri district of the state.

Mukurthi National Park
This National Park is situated in the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu, at a distance of approximately 27 km from Ooty. It lies on the southeastern corner of the elevated Nilgiri Plateau and is a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere.

Wayand Wildlife Sanctuary
This Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the South-Indian state of Kerala. It is also known as the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary and was set up in the year 1973. Later, the sanctuary was declared as a national park.
Palamau Tiger Reserve

The Palamau Tiger Reserve Jharkhand  is located in the Plamau area. It principally houses tiger and many other animals.
Rajgir Wildlife Sanctuary 
The Rajgir Wildlife Sanctuary  of Jharkhand covers a picturesque plot that extends across an area that measures approximately 34 square kilometers.
Hazaribagh National Park

 It is located in the low hilly terrain of Jharkhand and spread over 184 square kilometers in thick tropical forests and grass meadows.
SanjaiGandhi Javik Udyan
The Sanjai Gandhi Javik Udyan is located near Bailey Road, in Patna, Bihar. 

Key Words: National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, wildlife

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Eucalyptus Tree


Eucalyptus is a tree native to Australia. It is well acclimatized in India. Once its roots meet soil, it goes on growing and growing. On 5th June 1991,  I planted a number to trees in a school campus. By chance, a plant of Eucalyptus came with the drooping Ashoka saplings. When the Drooping Ashokas were being planted, the Eucalyptus sapling stimulated my heart and without any planning I planted the same. Now Drooping Ashokas have attained fairly good heights but Eucalyptus has attained a height triple to them. It is so high that anyone can see its top from a distant place.

Eucalyptus is aromatic as it contains specific fragrant oil. This tree makes an attractive addition to a lawn or orchard. In Ranchi, there is a famous rather historical ground named as Morabadi ground. The local branch of CMPDI once planted trees of Eucalyptus in a large area in the breadth of this ground and trees have become gigantic by now few years back some bats inhabited the trees and their population rose very fast within a year or so. 

I used to go under these trees to watch the activities of those bats hanging from branches. In the previous election a leader became Chief Minister of the state and fireworks continued exploding the whole day producing lots of smoke and high pitched sound. Frightened from all this bats started flying away and the sky on the ground were clouded by their presence. Up to late in the night they kept on flying in terror and God knows where they settled. Anyway, the Eucalyptus trees have lost their friends now. Recently, I came to see that a number of trees have dried up and the whole area looks somewhat barren.

So, we were talking about Eucalyptus trees. It is a medicinal tree and extracts of leaves of this tree are added in cough syrups. Its oil has germicidal property. It purifies the surrounding air. Some persons are heard saying that this tree absorbs so much water that the ground may become like a desert. In my opinion it is incorrect. Eucalyptus tree has industrial values as well. Its pulp is used for making good quality paper. As a result we can see Eucalyptus plantation in different states of India.

Key Words: Eucalyptus, Drooping Ashoka,medicinal

Friday, December 12, 2014

Species and Population

We see different types of plants and animals around us. Some of these plants and animals are similar. Similar plants or animals form particular sets, and thus a number of sets of plants and animals are found in the nature. The individuals of one set of plants or animals remain similar with the individuals of the same set of organisms, while they remain different from the individuals of a different set.

A group of similar type of plants or animals  that can interbreed with one another in nature is called as species. There are numerous species of plants, animals and micro-organisms that exist in nature.

Individuals of one species tend to aggregate and live together occupying certain area at a given time. This aggregation of individuals of the same species often becomes permanent.This somewhat permanent aggregation of individuals of the same species that occupy a definite space at a given time is called as Population. Example: Flamingoes form a population in the figure below.

Key Words: Plants and Animals,species, population

Coral Reef and the Great Barrier Reef

Rock like spectacular structures in seas and oceans that are made of limestone, are called as coral reefs. The limestone inside the sea is secreted by millions of tiny animals called as coral polyps.

A Coral Polyp has a sac like soft body with a single opening which remains surrounded by tentacles. The lime stone secreted by a coral polyp accumulates to form high ridges called as reefs. 

In some areas of an ocean, these reefs grow high enough to take the shape of a barrier. Example of such an oceanic barrier which is visible even from the space is called as the Great Barrier Reef. 

The Great Barrier Reef stretches itself 1,200 miles off of the east of Queensland; Australia. This is the largest marine preserve in the world. It harbours about 500 species of beautifully coloured corals; 4000 kinds of shellfish, and 1,500 types of other fish species; besides vast varieties of algae and millions of varieties of consumers. As coral reefs are very rich in animal life, these are called as Rain Forests of the sea.

The Great Barrier Reef

A Coral Reef

Key Words:coral,coral polyp,Great Barrier Reef

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Annona squimosa- an important medicinal plant - I


Various types of natural remedies have been being made from different plants reported to contain medicinal properties. These natural remedies have been tested and found to be safe and effective. Many folkloric medicines have been prepared out of many plant species which are used for the treatment of different ailments. Compounds extracted out of plants continue to play major roles in Primary Healthcare as therapeutic remedies in many developing countries. Plants are rich sources of secondary metabolites with interesting biological activities.

Shareefa as it is known in Hindi language, Annona squimosa is one of the important medicinal plants known to Ayurveda and other traditional medical systems since time immemorial. It is profusely branched shrub or tree belonging to family Annonaceae. It bears tasty edible fruits called as Sugar Apple. It is semi-deciduous growing up to 3 metres to 8 metres in height. It is similar to soursop (A. muricata). It has a broad open crown and branches spreading irregularly.

Stem branches of Annona squimosa are with light brown bark and visible leaf scars. The inner bark is light yellow and slightly bitter in taste.

Leaves of the plant are thin, simple, alternate, occurring singly, 5 to 17 cm long and 2 to 6 cm broad, rounded at the base and pointed at the tips(oblong lanceolate), pale green on both surfaces, hairless with slight hair underside when young leaf stalks are 0.4 cm to 2.2 cm long and green.

Continued in the next post

Key Words: Annona squimosa, plant, medicinal

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Herbals and medicinal knowledge

A compilation of medicinal knowledge about herbs is called as herbal. In fact, a herbal is a book which contains names and descriptions of plants with information on their medicinal and other virtues.

A herbal may contain information on medicinal, tonic, culinary, toxic, hallucinogenic, aromatic and magical powers and traditional stories if/any related to a plant.

Herbal is a book which may contain information on classification of plants it describes. It may also contain recipes for extracts, tinctures etc of plants also. Many herbals prepared in ancient times usually contained illustrations that assisted in identifying plants described inside them.

It is reported that herbals have been the first sources that were printed in China and Europe. These are considered to be the first literatures that were produced in Ancient Egypt, China, India and Europe.

The development of modern Chemistry, toxicology and Pharmacology during late 17th century reduced importance of medicinal values of classical herbals. However, herbals remained popular sources of complementary and alternative medicines in the forms of Homoeopathy and Aromopathy.

Now, medicinal properties of different plants are tested along modern scientific lines and after that important chemical compounds as medicines are synthesized.

Herbals still provide easy and comfortable ways of treating various ailments among common public.

Key Words: herbal, medicinal, ancient

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Barred Owls

Owls form an important link in an ecosystem. It is a predator which mainly feeds on rats. Rats cause great damages to agriculture, horticulture and to our stored gains. Thus these are our friends.

There are many types of owls. Some are big and some are small.  A  Barred Owl is a medium-sized grey-brown owl with a large, rounded head with no ear-tufts, and streaked with white horizontal barring on the chest and vertical barring on the belly.

The facial disc of Barred Owl is pale greyish-brown with darker concentric lines. The rim is not very prominent. Eyes are dark brown to blackish-brown. The cere is pale horn, the bill pale yellowish with a slight greenish tint. The sides of the head and neck are barred light and dark. The upperparts are brown to greyish-brown, scalloped with whitish bars on the crown, back and mantle. Wing-coverts are spotted whitish. Flight feathers are barred whitish-buff and brown. The tail is brown or greyish-brown with 4-5 whitish bars.

Under parts are pale greyish-brown to dirty whitish. The upper breast and fore neck are densely barred light and dark. The rest of the under parts are boldly streaked dark to rufous-brown.
Tarsi are feathered, and toes are almost totally feathered, the bare parts being yellowish-grey. Claws are dark horn with blackish tips. Length of the body varies from 40-63 cm. Wingspan ranges from 96-125cm. Tail length 312-380mm. Weight 500-1050g. Females are normally larger and heavier than males.

It is  a nocturnal bird which means it comes out mainly during nights. It hides in dense foliage during the day, usually high in high part of a tree. It may also roost on a branch close to a broad tree-trunk, or in a natural tree hole. This owl may be very aggressive when defending a nest.

The Barred Owl is a highly vocal Owl giving a loud and resounding "hoo, hoo, too-HOO; hoo, hoo, too-HOO, ooo" which is often phrased as "Who, cooks, for-you? Who, cooks, for-you, all?" - The last syllable drops off noticeably. Like some other Owl species, they will call in the daytime as well as at night. The calls are often heard in a series of eight, then silence, when the Owl listens for a reply from other Owls. Other calls include "hoo-hoo, hoo-WAAAHH" and "hoo-WAAAHHH" used in courtship. Mates will duet, but the male's voice is deeper and mellower. Many other vocalisations are made which range from a short yelp or bark to a frenzied and raucous monkey-like squall.

Hunting & Food
Owl is a very opportunistic hunter. An owl may a sometimes be seen hunting before dark. This typically occurs during the nesting season or on dark and cloudy days. A Barred Owl will use a perch, from where it dives upon its prey - meadow voles are its main prey, followed by shrews and deer mice. Other mammals include rats, squirrels, young rabbits, bats, moles, opossums, mink, and weasels. Birds are taken occasionally, including woodpeckers, grouse, quail, jays, blackbirds, and pigeons. They also eat small fish, turtles, frogs, snakes, lizards, crayfish, scorpions, beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers. Birds are taken as they settle into nocturnal roosts, because they cannot catch birds on the wing. They will also swoop down to the water's edge to catch frogs, other amphibians, and occasionally fish. Barred Owls are attracted to campfires and lights where they forage for large insects. Prey is usually devoured on the spot. Larger prey is carried to a feeding perch and torn apart before eating.

Barred Owls call year-round but courtship activities begin in February with breeding occurring between March and August. Males hoot and females give contact calls. As the nesting season approaches, males chase after females giving a variety of hooting and screeching calls. Males display by swaying back and forth, and raising their wings, while sidling along a branch. Courtship feeding and mutual preening also occur. Barred Owls nest in cavities and will also use abandoned nests of  Red-shouldered Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Squirrel, or Crows. Eggs number 2-4 and are white, and almost perfectly round, with a slightly rough texture.

Life Spawn
Barred Owls have been known to live up to 32 years in captivity and 10 years or more in the wild. Most deaths are likely to be related to man (shootings, road kills etc). Great Horned Owls are their only natural enemy.

Key Words: Barred Owl, birds,nest