Biology comes alive with a visit to the ‘Living Laboratory’ in Vizag, the RCD Biodiversity Park.
There are plants from the Jurassic era, and trees that are mentioned in the Holy Bible, Vedas, Ayurvedic texts, and even the Holy Quran. There are plants associated with each zodiac sign, star (Nakshatra), and even all the twenty-one plants whose leaves are used to worship Lord Ganesha. But more intriguingly, there are plants that are unique, odd and actually fascinating. The carnivorous pitcher plant (remember it from your class seven science textbook?), the Upside-down tree, Autograph tree, Micky-Mouse tree, Krishna’s butter cup, Laughing Buddha bamboo, Octopus tree, star-fruit and passion fruit are but a few of the delights that make the RCD Biodiversity Park so special.
Laboratory comes alive
Spread out in three acres of verdant lush green ambience, a group of nature enthusiasts has created a ‘Living Laboratory’ with around 2000 species of plants, from scratch. These plants, have enticed over 70 species of birds and 105 species of butterflies, including migratory species to dwell in their shade. Fascinating is the park’s ten zones that are custom-designed for specific varieties of plants, which are educational and enlightening. For instance, there is a desert zone, pond ecosystem, sacred groves, living fossil world, a greenhouse, cacti and succulent house, even a butterfly zone with butterfly-friendly specific trees. Distinctive traits of these winged wonders can be observed; like how not all butterflies suck nectar from flowers, preferring rotting fruits instead. For this, there are charming ‘tables’ of fungi (mushrooms) on which fruit pieces are placed. There are also many rare and highly endangered plants, medicinal and aromatic, ornamental, orchids, insectivorous plants, air plants, gymnosperms, ferns, aquatic plants, palm groves and more. The local and botanical names of all the plants
The people here
The park is managed by the Dolphin Nature Conservation Society (DNCS) and Biodiversity Park. The nature-loving club has 2000 members from various colleges in and out of the state, including nature aficionados from out of the country. Leading the club are Dr M Rama Murty, the Founder President and retired HOD Zoology, BVK College; his wife Smt. M Magathayi, Co-Founder and a senior biology teacher in the AU High School; Dr G Prudhviraj, Founder Member and a Wildlife Biologist in WII; S Pavani, Secretary and senior lecturer in Sri Chaitanya Jr. College; STPL Ushasri, Joint Secretary and lecturer in Vikas Vidya Niketan. Manual assistance is provided by VMRDA.
Appreciation and accolades
With Dr M Rama Murty and his wife having nurtured the initiative for sixteen years now, they have at every stage instilled in students the love for nature and its conservation. The park benefits the student community as a whole and has helped many students take up science projects and research study. Over the years, the park has received a lot of appreciation and accolades from various bodies. It has been recognised as the first ex situ Biodiversity Park in the State by AP Biodiversity Board of the Government of Andhra Pradesh. Started with the co-operation and consent of the then District Collector Sunil Sharma the park was developed in phases over the last 16 years.
The DNCS Club is also active on Facebook. Recently, a youth group on an international tour doing a study on ‘Youth for Nature Conservation’ from the US and UK sought out and visited the park after learning about it via Facebook. Likewise, a couple of Hungarian girls visited the park out of sheer love for nature. Many student groups from various parts of the state and country include a trip to the park when on school excursions to the city of Vizag. An ecological singularity, the biodiversity park is much more than a lung space in Vizag. It is a place for the flora and fauna to thrive, while the humans benefit from both, educational experience and a mesmerising preview into the wonders of nature.