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Invasive species in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR)

  • Published
    2nd Nov, 2022
Context

The Forest Department is coming up with a comprehensive strategy to deal with the spread of the invasive species, in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), which continues to spread rapidly in the buffer zone.

About

About the Species

  • An invasive species, Senna spectabilis is an exotic tree. The species has taken over between 800 and 1,200 hectares of the buffer zones of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR).
  • The species has now become highly invasive in the Sigur plateau in both the core and buffer zones of the MTR.
  • Senna spectabilis is spreading fastest in the Singara and Masinagudi forest ranges in the MTR buffer zone.
  • Senna spectabilis pose a major threat if proper action is not taken soon.
  • Now the Forest Department is coming up with a comprehensive strategy to deal with the spread of the invasive species, which continues to spread rapidly in the buffer zone.

Senna spectabilis:

  • It is native species of America, introduced to India as an ornamental plant.
  • Senna spectabilis belongs to the Fabaceae family and is grown as an ornamental plant across tropical America.
  • This invasive species is very hardy and survives under challenging conditions. Removing it is a big task and eradicating it from a landscape can take years.
  • It can grow 7 - 18 meters tail; is evergreen in climates with rain all year round, but can become deciduous in some regions, and produces yellow flowers.
  • Spectabilis has been commonly used in traditional medicine for many years. It possesses significant biological activity, such as antibacterial, antibiofilm, antifungal, and antioxidant properties.
  • It is considered an environmental weed by the Global Compendium of Weeds.
  • As compared to Eucalyptus and pine, though exotic, do not spread as quickly as the other species and are considered easier to manage.

Steps were taken to curb the spread of invasive species:

  • Demarcation: The Forest department is demarcating areas where the species is spreading.
  • Using it as wood: Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Limited (TNPL) plan to use wood from Senna spectabilis from the MTR for paper-making.
  • Systematic Removal: Senna spectabilis, along with Lantana Camara, is among five major invasive weeds that had taken over vast swathes of the Nilgiris.
  • The Forest Department is also formulating a 10-year-plan to systematically remove Lantana camera.
  • Court Monitoring: The judges from the court inspected the Tiger Reserve this year to monitor progress in the removal of invasive species.

About Mudumalai Tiger Reserve:

  • Mudumalai Tiger Reserve is located in the Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu state at the tri-junction of three states, viz, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
  • It is a part of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (1st Biosphere Reserve in India) along with Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (Kerala) in the West, Bandipur National Park (Karnataka) in the North, Mukurthi National Park and Silent Valley in the South.
  • The name Mudumalai means “the ancient hill range”. Indeed, it is as old as 65 million years since when the Western Ghats were formed.
  • Flora:
  • The Reserve has tall grasses, commonly referred to as ‘Elephant Grass'.
  • Bamboo of the giant variety, valuable timber species like Teak, Rosewood, etc.
  • There are several species of endemic flora.
  • Fauna:
  • Flagship Species: Tiger and Asian Elephant.
  • Other species: Indian Gaur, Spotted Deer, Common Langur, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Wild Dog, and Jungle Cat among others.
  • Birds:
    • Reserve has got a wide variety of more than 260 species of birds.
    • 8% of bird species found in India are recorded in Mudumalai.
    • This includes rare birds like the Malabar grey hornbill, Malabar pied hornbill, and Malabar laughing thrush among others.

 

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