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Wildlife Department launches ‘Parthenium Bio Control’ drive in Jambu Zoo

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JAMMU: In a first of its kind attempt, the Department of Wildlife Protection, in collaboration the SKUAST-Jammu is exploring possibility of eradicating parthenium weed using its natural bio control agent i.e. Mexican beetle (zygogrammabicolorata) in Jambu Zoo.

Parthenium- often known as congress grass (locally known as Jadi) is a national weed which has spread throughout the length and breadth of the country and has encroached important landscapes like agriculture fields, wasteland, forests and protected areas. Parthenium is known for its negative impact on the health of animals and humans, notably for its pollen allergy and allelopathic impact on soil micro flora and fauna.

In the agriculture field parthenium weed is eradicated through integrated weed management using chemicals and natural amines. However, in forest, protected areas and in Zoos, use of chemicals is prohibited hence control of this menacing weed remained a management hurdle both for foresters/protected area/Zoo managers.

The bio control launch was marked with the release of more than 500 beetles in the Zoo area.  Similar such successive releases on the same site will be carried out for next few months during the monsoon season and the similar approach will be followed up in next year for ascertaining its effectiveness in wild areas.

The bio control agent is proven to feed only on parthenium and does not affect other plants and animals. It is very much likely that beetles will eradicate parthenium without any negative impact and the affected area will either naturally or under assistance will be aided for growth of natural grasses and herbs.

After the release of Beetle-both grub and adults feed on parthenium leaves/plants, preventing it from attaining full maturity seed setting and further multiplication. On this occasion Anil Kumar Atri, Additional Director, Jambu Zoo informed the students, Zoo visitors and Zoo staff about the need for using bio control agent for habitat improvement without use of chemical pesticides.

Dr. R.S Bandral, Professor in Division of Entomology, SKUAST-Jammu highlighted the benefits of parthenium bio-control and other natural agents that can be explored for controlling other weed species such as lantana etc.

Dr. Arti Sharma and Dr. Manoj Thakur, SKUAST faculty, exchanged their thoughts on co-existence with wilderness and the role played by biological agents in controlling various weeds without harming nature.

Students from SKUAST-Jammu presented their views on the importance of biodiversity and its conservation from scientific exploration to sustainable harvesting and benefit sharing with local communities.

Programme was organised under the guidance of Sarvesh Rai, PCCF, Chief Wildlife Warden, J&K and Dr. Kumar MK, CCF, Regional Wildlife Warden Jammu.

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