Preparation work underway at Delhi Zoo ahead of its reopening, in New Delhi.(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)
Preparation work underway at Delhi Zoo ahead of its reopening, in New Delhi.(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)

Soon, head to Delhi zoo to spot some unique tree species

Considering that the park already boasts of some rare species such as the baobab tree or kalpavriksh, having a “tree point” seems right on par for the zoo to become an “inclusive natural space”.
By Soumya Pillai, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON APR 04, 2021 01:06 AM IST

In the coming months, the Delhi zoo will not just be a place to watch birds and animals, but also a spot to sight over 100 native and exotic species of trees, officials said. The National Zoological Park is working towards creating an arboretum on the zoo premises for visitors to see and learn about the different tree species in the capital.

Considering that the park already boasts of some rare species such as the baobab tree or kalpavriksh, having a “tree point” seems right on par for the zoo to become an “inclusive natural space”.

Ramesh Kumar Pandey, director, Delhi zoo, said an open space in the centre of the zoo premises, which was pretty much an abandoned space, is being planted with various trees and will be converted into a full-fledged tree point by this monsoon.

“The idea behind this initiative is to elevate the status of the zoo from just a place for sighting animals and birds, to an inclusive natural space. The park which we are converting into the tree point already had around 29 tree species. We have already started planting more trees species there and, by the end of April, we will have a total of 60 tree species in the arboretum,” Pandey said.

He said the plantation will be continuous and by the end of monsoon in Delhi, which is considered the ideal time for plantation, over 100 species of trees will be planted at the tree point.

The Delhi zoo, which was shut for over a year due to the coronavirus disease pandemic, opened its gates to the public on April 1. The zoo was shut to visitors on March 18, 2020, a week before a nationwide lockdown that went on for 68 days. Although most services gradually reopened in the past few months, plans to get visitors back to the zoo were hit by cases of avian flu being reported earlier this year.

Officials said once the tree point is developed, the zoo plans to conduct tree walks and educational trips to educate interested visitors about different species, the country from which they originate and how to differentiate between tree species.

“For instance, a lot of people have not seen the semal tree, even though it is planted in huge numbers across the city, and some do not know how to differentiate the semal tree from a palash tree because both have red flowers blooming at this time of the year. People can come here and see these trees at different stages of the year -- when they bloom, when they are bearing fruits and when they shed leaves,” Pandey said.

At present, the Delhi zoo is home to varieties such as semal, kachnar, palash, the golden trumpet, mango, bamboo and varieties of palm. Apart from the usually sighted trees, the Delhi zoo is also known to house some rare species that are not easily spotted outside its gates.

For instance, the whole of Delhi has just four baobab trees, commonly known as kalpavriksh (Adansonia digitata). The zoo has three of them. It also has two of only four remaining winged calabash or gourd tree (Crecsentia alata) in Delhi.

Faiyaz Khudsar, scientist in-charge of the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, said it is important to have such spaces in the city where people can come and learn about the city’s rich ecology.

“It is important to have such spaces within the city. At the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, we have over 40 unique flowering plants. It is imperative to preserve some tree species and that will happen only if people are aware of them,” Khudsar said.

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