2) A glimpse of the biodiversity at ICRISAT campus

If the crop is good, birds come calling. If the lands around the fields are protected, and there are different ecosystems within the farm, then many kinds of birds and animals make it their home.

When the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) started agricultural research in its 3,500-acre campus at Patancheru in the outskirts of Hyderabad city in 1972, the aim was to establish world-class research facilities. Much planning and hard work went into designing precision fields, irrigation tanks and farm roads on the campus. A fence was erected along the periphery of the campus to protect these assets.

Over the years, appropriate agricultural practices and protection has converted ICRISAT's Patancheru campus into a thriving haven for at least 500 species of plants, 20 species of fungi, 50 species of butterflies, 15 species of dragonflies, numerous other insects, 10 species of fish, 20 species of reptiles, 250 species of birds, and 10 mammal species including a few vagrants.

“While in our Genebank we created a home for the 115,000 germplasm accessions of our mandate crops, over the years our campus has also shaped into an informal wildlife sanctuary, with a wide range of flora and fauna,” said Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT.

Dr Dar added that parts of the campus, such as the natural water bodies, remain untouched, providing a safe nook from Siberia and Europe. Rare birds and animals have been sighted in the campus.

ICRISAT, in collaboration with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), has released a handbook, which gives the visitor to Patancheru campus, a glimpse of the diversity of plant and animal life. Titled Wildlife and Biodiversity @ ICRISAT, the book was released by Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, on 14 February.

The book has been priced at Rs 350, or USD 10, and can be ordered from ICRISAT.

The rapid but systematic study that went in for the production of the book has revealed that the ICRISAT-Patancheru campus is home to hundreds of species of animals, birds, small mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians, plants, fungi and other life forms. Some of them are very unusual although it is unlikely that any are endemic to the campus. The density of species is very impressive.

The diversity of plants and animals found in the campus is also due to the diverse and distinct ecosystems present – grasslands, wetlands, woodlands, croplands, and fallow areas, built up areas with managed lawns, trees and gardens, open wells, open water bodies.

The book aims to enlighten the visitor to ICRISAT on the diversity of life present in the campus, and highlights the visitor's role in preserving this heritage for the future.

For further information about the book, contact Ms Lydia Flynn at l(dot)Flynn(at)cgiar(dot)org.

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