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May 22, 2018

Eco Park biodiversity survey reveals a wealth of fauna and flora

Eco Park biodiversity survey reveals a wealth of fauna and flora

A recent survey of the fauna and flora of Eco Park in New Town, near Kolkata has given a lot of hope for environment-lovers. This popular weekend getaway, also called Prakriti Tirtha, as named by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, is a majestic nature paradise in an urban space. The survey at the 480-acre park was conducted by the Forest Department and HIDCO, the government organisation which is responsible for the upkeep of the park.

Spotted deer, barking deer, fishing cat, more than a dozen species of birds, around 100 varieties of butterflies and several species of rodents and insects have made Eco Park their home.

More than 50 deer – spotted deer or chital and barking deer – are housed in a 12-acre enclosure. Both of these species prefer grasslands interspersed with trees, and their habitat has been recreated at the park.

The fishing cat, Bengal’s state animal, lives on the banks of the 112-acre waterbody at the centre of the park. Fishing cats thrive in swamps and marshy areas and prey on fish, frogs and crabs. They are shy animals that slink away at the sight and smell of humans and usually hunt at night. The lake also has 17 varieties of fish, including several types of carp.

Eco Park has also emerged as a bird-watchers’ paradise. More than a dozen varieties of birds, including the stork-billed kingfisher, white-bellied woodpecker, Bengal bushlark, Malabar whistling thrush, striated babbler, black bittern, cinnamon bittern, plaintive cuckoo, striated grassbird and pied cuckoo have been spotted during the survey.

Most of these birds like to live in the grasslands inside the park where there are enough fruit-bearing trees for shade as well as for nesting.

According to an environmentalist, who is a member of an organisation which organises bird-watching trips, at least 150 different species of birds had been spotted at Eco Park over the course of the last one year. The sheer variety of birds found is generally not seen elsewhere in the city, he said.

More than a 100 varieties of butterflies are found at the park, including blue Mormon, commander, lemon pansy, blue pansy, grey pansy, common leopard, Mormon, lime butterfly, common rose and tailed jay.

The park’s flora include Burmese pink cassia, bakul, fern leaf tree, yellow bottlebrush and red sandalwood or red sanders, and 62 varieties of fruit trees such as mango, banana, grapes and pomegranate. The herbal garden at the park has more than 241 varieties of herbs

Eco Park is not just an entertainment stop. Over 300 varieties of trees have been planted which have, in turn, attracted birds and animals. Hence the survey was initiated to document this huge biodiversity.