Friday, September 25, 2015

Orchids of Meghalaya

The one I saw in Shillong
A recent report on the Meghalaya orchids was alarming. Home to more than 1300 species of orchids these exotic varieties of flowering plants are under serious threat due to habitat loss and human exploitation. The report said that many of the orchid species are present in Nokrek Biosphere Reserve in the Garo Hills, four wildlife sanctuaries, reserved forests and 125 sacred groves in the statebut have a grim future.

Meghalaya is a hiily state in the North-East and comprises Khasi Hills, Jayantiya Hills and Garo
This was shot in Baghmara, Garo Hills
Hills. All are picturesque places with different tribes and their different cultures with medley of colours. While a piece on my experiences in the North-East will follow, the present one relates only to the state’s orchids. The report lamented that there is no conscious effort to protect these exotic plants. It said that the Jowai, Jarain, Tuber, Mukhaialong, Narpuh, and Raliang in East
From the Orchidarium, Shillong
and West Jaintia Hills hills districts and Tura peak, Nokrek, Baghmara and Rongrenggre in the Garo Hills were some of such undisturbed areas providing habitat for wild orchids.

shot in Baghmara Garo Hills
I was posted in the North-East with headquarters in Shillong. I happened to come across a tree with numerous flowers attached to its trunk in the compound of the local Nongthimmai Post office I took some photographs. Later, while on a visit to the Baghmara Post office in the Garo Hills I found two more orchid plants flowering close to the top of the trunk of a tall tree. I could not stand there for long as slowly I realised huge fierce-looking red ants were trying to climb up my legs.

From the Orchidarium, Shillong
I was posted out to Delhi in 1990. Before leaving Shillong I took a trip to the local orchidarium and took some photographs of orchids that were in bloom. It was a great pity to see that orchids were hawked around in the bazaars. A plant, the place of which was in jungles was being wrenched away from its habitat only for a minor benefit to the hawker and to adorn a middle class drawing room. Obviously a market had developed for orchids in Shillong by then. Now, after 25 years, it ought to be a craze and forests are surely being stripped of their orchids. What a pity!

From the Orchidarium

From the Orchidarium

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DISAPPEARING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION Rama Chandra Guha, free-thinker, author and historian Ram Chandra Guha, a free-thinker, author and...