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«Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology Contents My experience with Indian flying fox Beheda : A potential source for Pharmaceutical industries Kachchh: ...»

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Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology


My experience with Indian flying fox

Beheda : A potential source for Pharmaceutical industries

Kachchh: An abode of unique flora

Wastewater treatment using constructed wetland systems

Is Prosopis a curse or a blessing?

Use of plastic waste in road construction and fuel

Solid waste management: an overview

Electric and Electronic waste: a growing Environmental Menace

Photographs by: Dr. Nikunj Gajera

Pollutants and their effects on health and environment Events in GUIDE Upcoming Conferences Dear Colleagues, This issue of Guide.net carries many articles that are of relevance to Kachchh and arid zone ecosystems such as Prosopis, solid waste management, medicinal aspects of Kachchh flora and on bats. Environmental issues of Kachchh are apparently unique and to address it, we need to device innovative and special approaches. One such example is the issue of Prosopis. Its spread in Kachchh is estimated to be at the rate of 47 sq.km/year which is on the rise every year.

Proliferation and ecological implication of Prosopis is widely debated and a final concrete management approach to control it is yet eluding. In the light of the fact that its physical eradication is next to impossible, focused research on its biological and ecological aspects and utilizing the modern techniques of biotechnology is to be explored to manage this species. Taking inspiration from traditional knowledge, the article on Kachchh floral wealth narrates how the plants of Kachchh could be a valuable medicinal resource and highlights their conservation significance and sustainable utilization. The article on electronic waste, a universal and ubiquitous environmental problem, suggests some possible avenues to recycle and overcome this growing menace.

The article on flying foxes (Bats) by one of our dissertation students dispels many myths about this wonderful flying mammal which is common in Kachchh.

It deserves to be highlighted that some long term but urgent environmental issues whose threat perception is higher for Kachchh is yet to grasp our

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If you are like many people, hearing the word “Bat” would make you shudder with fear and dislikes (Dee Stuart, 1994). Somewhere, you may have heard that bats attack people, morass in your head, bite you and are the carriers of rabies. Unfortunately a number of myths and misconceptions about bats have been in existence throughout the ages and sometimes all the bats are referred to as “Vampires”. This has resulted in bats’ being one of the world’s most unfairly accused and misunderstood creatures. Bats belong to the taxonomic order Chiroptera, which is the second largest order of mammals with more than 1100 species which are divided into two suborders Megachiroptera and Microchiroptera based on their size and feeding habits and are the only mammals which possess the ability of true flight. India is home to nearly 120 species of bats out of which 13 belong to the suborder Megachiroptera and the remaining to the suborder Microchiroptera.

I have got opportunity to understand the behaviour of Indian flying fox, Pteropus giganteus belonging to the suborder Megachiroptera. Flying foxes are the giants of the bats world that weigh up to 1.5-2 kg with the wingspan reaching up to 6 feet. This is a fruit eating bat, widely distributed in India seems to be adapted to hot and dry climate. I have observed the behaviour of this species in some localities of Bhuj city where these flying foxes roost in large number on the trees of Polyalthia longifolia and Cocos nucifera in Sharad Baug Palace which is the only permanent roosting site of these bats in Bhuj city. Bats are social animals and are found in colonies specifically located amidst human population. They are present in large colonies of about 300-400 individuals. The colonies of these flying foxes comprise of adults, sub-adults and young ones. It travels long distances up to 150-200 km to and fro from its roost every night in search of fleshy fruits. Their colonies generally have permanent roost with 2-3 temporary roosts where individuals shift depending on the season. In Bhuj this temporary roost site is served by Rajendra Bagh which is located in the centre of Hamirsar Lake where the colony can be sometimes found roosting on Azadirachta indica (Neem) trees. As bats are known to be nocturnal species, much less is known about their daytime activity budget. Hence, I have initiated the study to understand its daytime behaviour.

Figures (anti-clockwise from top right): Sharad Baug Palace, a colony of about 50individuals roosting on Neem tree, an individual performing Scanning and an individual performing Brachiation.

I observed various behaviour of flying fox during day time which included resting (hanging with eyes closed), scanning (hanging with eyes open), fighting, grooming, wing flapping, communication, sexual behaviour, feeding, brachiation (moving from one branch to the other) and flying. While resting was seen as the most frequent activity done during the daytime followed by wing flapping and scanning respectively, feeding and sexual behaviour were among the least observed activities. It was seen that a high number of individuals of the colony were sleeping just before the sunset which could be a possible method of saving energy before they go out for flight after sunset.

Conservation Status According to a study by Mahato et al. (2012) and discussion with locals, it was found that the colony was increasing in number and was seen to be healthy but still the population of these bats has decreased as compared to the population before 2001 earthquake, which resulted in the felling down of trees which were their roosting sites. This further decreased the population of these flying foxes. As in other parts of the country where these flying foxes are killed for their meat (especially Assam and other states of North East India), these bats do not have such a direct threat to them in Bhuj but the reconstruction and development activities post 2001 earthquake, rapid industrialization, urbanization and encroachment of the woody invasive plant Prosopis juliflora are some of the reasons that posed indirect threat to these bats as it led to the decrease in the number of their roosting trees. Even damage to the temporary roosting site can have significant effect on the population as they cannot migrate to an earlier trusted place in time of unfavorable conditions in the permanent roosts.

Bats are ecologically very important species as they are one of the major pollinators and some of the plant species solely depend on them for pollination. They also possess medicinal value. This species Pteropus giganteus, is one of the most persecuted fruit bats in South Asia and listed as a vermin under the Schedule V of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act. This species is listed on Appendix II of the CITES and regular population monitoring is needed to establish major threats and overall declines. With reference to the study area, Bhuj, apart from regular population monitoring, emphasis should be laid on managing the human encroachment aiming construction activities which are a threat to their roosting sites. In addition, effective measures need to be taken to control the invasion of Prosopis juliflora which is gradually decreasing the plant diversity of the area by thriving them for vital soil nutrients and assuring its spread. This would be harmful for the trees which are roosting sites for these majestic creatures.

Priyanshu Joshi Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University,New Delhi Beheda (Terminalia bellirica (Gaertn.)Roxb): a potential source for Pharmaceutical industries Family: Combretacae Vernacular names: Baheda Habit: (15 to 20) m long.

Parts used: stem, fruits, bark, leaves, Bark: ash–coloured or grayish brown, longitudinally fissured.

Leaves: 4.5 – 26 * 2.7 – 15.5 cm acuminateat apex, base narrowed and cuneate, emarginated, both surfaces puberulous when young, glabrous and reticulate when old, margins entire, subcrenulate pellucid.

Inflorescence: 5-10 cm long, auxiliary solitary or clusterd spikes.

Flower: 0.5 cm across, creamy – white or pale yellow, upper unisexual Androecium: stamens 10.

Gynoecium: absent in male flowers and hermaprrodite flower. Ovary 0.15 cm, unilocular, ovules 2 or 3; style up to 0.4 cm long.

Fruit: Drupe, 1.5 – 2.5 cm across, brown Seed: Solitary, exalbuminous, cotyledons convolute Distribution: Throughout India Action/uses: The bark is mildly diuretic. The fruits are astringent, acrid, sweet, thermogenic, anti-inflammatory, anodyne, styptic, narcotic, digestive, antihelminthic, aperients, expectorant, ophthalmic, antipyretic, antiemetic and rejuvenating.

The bark is useful in leucoderma. The fruits are useful in vitiated conditions of vata and pitta, cough, bronchitis, pharyngitis, insomnia, dropsy, dyspepsia, flatulence, dipsia, vomiting, hemorrhages, ophthalmopathy, strangury, splenomegali, ulcer and general debility. The oil obtained from the seeds is useful in dyspepsia, skin diseases, leucoderma and greyness of hairs.

Commercial utility: Fruits sold in market, used extensively in preparing ayurvedic medicine.

Bhagirath Paradva JRF, Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology

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contributed richly on the floral wealth of Kachchh. Of late, Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology has been intensively studying the floral diversity of various region of the district since last 18 years. The cumulative results of these studies revealed a total of 695 species of flowering plants distributed in different parts of Kachchh region. Apart from this, Thakar (1926) had earlier described a total of 511 plant species as having medicinal value. The thorn forest and Savanna are two dominant ecosystems in Kachchh. These vegetation types exits in the form of a mosaic in hilly tract and plain area. Hilly tract supports rich mixed thorn forest, Euphorbia scrub and Acacia forest which are classified based on the floristic composition of each habitat and plain area supports mainly grassland and saline scrub. Their forest types support good number of threatened plant species i.e.

Commiphora wightii, Helicrysum cutchicum, Heliotropium rariflorum and Convolvulus stocksii, including Commiphora wightii, Capparis cartilaginea, Boerhavia diffusa and Tribulus terrestris.

These species possess high medicinal values and are facing the threat of extinction by overexploitation for commercial purpose.

An update on the floral diversity of the district indicates a total of 988 higher plant species (including one gymnosperm) belonging to 118 families and 503 genera, which represents 805 species of dicots and 183 monocots. Herbs were the most dominant plant form in Kachchh, represented by 457 species (46.25% of total species reported), followed by shrubs (162), trees (149), grasses (104) and climbers (43). Poaceae, the monocotyledon is the dominant family reported with maximum of 104 species. This is followed by Fabaceae (84), Asteraceae (52), Cyperaceae (44) Malvaceae (43) and Convolvulaceae (41) families. In Kachchh, Cyperus is the most dominant genus under family Cyperaceae and is represented by 24 species. Other dominant genera include Ipomoea, Heliotropium, Euphorbia, Indigofera, Cassia and Ficus each represented by at least eleven or more than eleven species.

A total of 21 threatened plant species have been recorded which include: Helicrysum cutchicum, Commiphora wightii, Heliotropium bacciferum var. suberosum, Heliotropium rariflorum, Ipomoea kotschyana, Dactylian drawelwitschii, Indigoferaca erulea var.

monosperma, Limonium stocksii, Tribulus rajasthanensis, Campylanthus pungens, Hyphaene indica, Ammannia desertorum, Corallocarpus conocarpus, Dipcadi erythraeum, Pavonia ceratocarpa, Sidatiagii, Schweinfurthia papilionacea, Citrullus colocynthis, Convolvulus stockii, Talinum portulacifolium and Ephedra Foliata (Gymnosperm).

Dr. Rohit Patel Mr. Bhagirath Paradva Mr. Piyush Vaghasiya Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology

Wastewater treatment using constructed wetland systems

Water is one of the most valuable and essential resources to mankind. It is the basis of all civilizations right from the beginning of human history. Considering historical facts, all the civilizations emerge around some water resources. From this we can arrive into a conclusion that water always plays a crucial role in the history of mankind. Water is one of the most important elements involved in the creation and development of healthy life. The quality and quantity of water resources decreases with exponential growth of industrialization and population. To avoid this situation we have to use water in a sustainable way. To achieve this, a high level of responsibility towards water usage is required, and it must be recycled according to its pollution content in order to maintain water quality and protect our environment. In 1995, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) identified severely polluted stretches on 18 major rivers in India. Not surprisingly, a majority of these stretches were found in and around large urban areas.

The high incidence of severe contamination near urban areas indicates that the industrial and domestic sectors' contribution to water pollution is much higher than their relative importance implied in the Indian economy. There is also considerable reduction in the ground water levels. Water is a renewable resource, in the sense that it could absorb pollution load up to certain levels without affecting its quality. The problem of water pollution occurs when the pollution load exceeds the natural regenerative capacity of the water resource. The control of water pollution is therefore to reduce the pollution loads from anthropogenic activities to the natural regenerative capacity of the resource.

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