Debrigarh Sanctuary on Amphiterrestrial Habitat Restoration Adjoining Hirakud Wetland/Reservoir

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sambalpur: Debrigarh Sanctuary shares 100 shorelines with Hirakud Reservoir which is an internationally important wetland due to its rich biodiversity. Hirakud reservoir is also a proposed Ramsar site (Chilika and Bhitarkanika are the other two Ramsar sites in Odisha). In western Odisha, the Hirakud for Ramsar declaration is ongoing. Removing weeds will enrich habitat, increase grasslands, improve wildlife health, and also provide clear passage to water for animals in the sanctuary.

Debrigarh sanctuary covers about 100 km of shoreline with Hirakud reservoir. The 743 km² Hirakud reservoir is a wetland of international importance and also a proposed Ramsar site. It is also the largest man-made lake in Asia. Ipomoea carnea is an environmental weed known to be a poisonous shrub. It is native to the tropical regions of America but then gradually spread to different subcontinents including Asia and is also found in different places in Odisha. This weed commonly known as ‘Amari’ in Odia is known to cause behavioral effects in animals and is also poisonous in nature. Over the past decade, it has spread aggressively along the banks of the Hirakud Wetland adjoining the Debrigarh Sanctuary. Because of this, it occupied the expanses of grasslands and shorelines that are important habitats for wild animals.

Densely populated with wildlife, Debrigarh Sanctuary and its adjoining Hirakud Wetland records vast tracts of these invasive weeds stretching over 100 km. at the shore. The Hirakud Wildlife Division authority has started eradicating these weeds along the entire stretch from Zeropoint to Tamdai, the end point of the sanctuary to Chhattisgarh. Clearing is done using machines, care is taken that the roots of Ipomoea do not touch the ground after uprooting as this may give more room for them to spread and through the soil solarization technique, the last trace of weeds is also removed from this area. Ipomoea is a non-native species and has out-competed native grass varieties on the shoreline of Debrigarh Sanctuary and Hirakud Wetland and thus also reduced the diversity of resident plant communities. Since these areas are an amphiterrestrial habitat, many species of sanctuary animals like samber, spotted deer, bison, chousingha, etc. use these forest edge habitats for foraging, grazing, and movement for day-to-day reservoir use. Hirakud Wetland being the lifeline of Debrigarh, this area must be free from weeds and other invasive species that do not support wildlife. Many small predators are also attracted to the amphiterrestrial habitat due to the abundance of prayers in this region, as the animals move to the wetland for watering and feeding more often in a day.

Weed removal will provide space for grasslands to expand and also provide more space for animals to roam. Debrigarh management has identified some patches of ipomoea which will be restored for nesting breeding of birds and other small animals. These identified patches should be monitored regularly and are mapped by GIS for our reference.

Hirakud Wetland is a proposed Ramsar site and is the largest man-made lake in Asia.

Amphitersterial Habitat – this is the area where Hirakud Wetland and Debrigarh Sanctuary converge i.e. the 100km coastline between the wildlife habitat and the watland. Hirakud wetland. It is also an ideal habitat for predator ambushes.

Ipomoea weed is highly invasive and causes wildlife habitat degradation, affects wildlife health.

Amphiterrial habitat can support more biodiversity than other habitats.

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