Dehradun (Uttarakhand): The first-ever Orchid Diversity Survey at Corbett Tiger Reserve revealed a rich treasure house of colourful orchids. The survey was conducted by the Research Wing of the Uttarakhand Forest in Corbett Tiger Reserve from 2020 to August 2023. This project was approved by the Research Advisory Committee (RAC), headed by HoFF, Uttarakhand in 2020.
Chief Conservator of Forests (Research), Sanjiv Chaturvedi said, "Survey has revealed that Corbett Tiger Reserve has a rich orchid diversity. It has shown existence of 31 orchid species, representing 23 genera within the Orchidaceae family. Among these species, 11 are terrestrial, two are saprophytic, and 18 are epiphytic”.
Orchid species hold a unique and vital place in the world of plants, captivating both scientists and enthusiasts alike. Their importance extends far beyond their aesthetic beauty, as these remarkable plants play a crucial role in various ecological, economic, and cultural aspects.
They are very valuable and highly threatened and therefore, protected under schedules of Wildlife Protection Act 1972 as well as under CITES.
The study has revealed the existence of important threatened species, like Phaius tankervilleae, also known as Red Cane Orchid or Nun’s Orchid, and Pecteilis gigantean, known as the Butterfly Orchid. Both these species have already been declared as a threatened species by the State Biodiversity Board. Furthermore, the research has identified Eulophia flava (Yellow Eulophia), Eulophia explanata (Flattened Eulophia), Cymbidium macrorhizon (Large Root Cymbidium) and Epipogium roseum (Rosy Ghost Orchid), as rare species documented during the study. The finding of Eulophia explanata is a significant event, which is discovered after 36 36-year gap in Uttarakhand state.
The study's findings underscore the significance of Sal (Shorea robusta) as the foremost favoured host plant among epiphytic orchid species within the reserve area. Another significant species was Checkered Vanda which is a very significant medicinal orchid used in ‘Ayurvedic shamans’ and in the Tantric cult.
Sanjiv Chaturvedi further said, "The Study's findings would be invaluable for shaping a conservation strategy dedicated to orchid species. These orchids may turn out to be a major tourist attraction also in future."
The survey team consisted of four young JRF of the Research Wing- Manoj Singh, Jyoti Prakash Joshi, Kiran Bisht and Tanuja Pandey.