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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Meet the Mumbai man who has studied 33 species of birds, 37 butterflies at biodiversity park

A research fellow documents species of flora and fauna in a biodiversity park in Kandivli

mumbai Updated: Oct 02, 2017 10:44 IST
Yesha Kotak
Yesha Kotak
Hindustan Times
The park had 30 species of birds and butterflies on 2013
The park had 30 species of birds and butterflies on 2013(Ht File)

As a student of biotechnology, Rupesh Gawde, 26, would spend most of his time in Devbagh, a biodiversity park in Kandivli created by the husband-wife team of Afzal and Nusrat Khatri, documenting species of birds and butterflies. Now a junior research fellow at National Institute of Advanced Studies, Gawde has studied about 33 species of birds and 37 butterflies present in the park as a part of his bachelors and masters course.

“The number of butterflies and birds is a bio indicator when one wants to understand the conservation of biodiversity in an area,” said Gawde. The park, developed by the Khatris, had around 60 species of birds and butterflies in 2013, when Gawde started his study there.

“While I was studying in Chinai College (Andheri) during my bachelors, I came across this initiative by the Khatris, and I was quite keen to conduct a study,” said Gawde.

The passion for documentation of species in the park would get him to Mumbai from Pune every weekend.

At that point of time, he was studying the mutual relationship between ants and plants. He had learnt that an ant protects plants and receives nectar in return. However, he noticed a contradictory pattern in case of Clerodendrum chimense (Hazari mogra) in the park. He says that his research paper was later selected by a university in France, but he couldn’t attend the seminar.

While he was carrying out his study, he also came across the once-endangered Glory lily, which is one of the costliest flowers in the black market.

Gawde also added that the space is rich in flora and fauna because the area was once a part of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).

“I documented some of the birds such as the Indian pitta, orange-headed thrush and green bee-eater, which can be only found in forests,” said Gawde.

However, he is saddened by the fact that the residents around are not really concerned about conserving the biodiversity in the area.

Speaking about the park, Nusrat said that when they started clearing the area in 2007, they didn’t expect that a junkyard would house various rare species such the wood spider, signature spider, atlas mot, owl mot and vailed fungi, among others.

She also went on to add that they have now managed to conserve around 2,000 different species.

“It is because the biodiversity in the park is protected, that you notice that the temperature in this area is four-five degrees lower than other areas,” Nusrat said.

First Published: Oct 02, 2017 10:43 IST

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