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The Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary in Delhi is gradually developing a “seed bank” of native plant species specific to the Aravallis, with the aim of bringing back species that have been lost and creating awareness around disappearing trees in Delhi.
- The sanctuary covering a 32.71 sqkm area on the Southern Delhi Ridge of the Aravalli hill range on the Delhi-Haryana border lies in Southern Delhi and northern parts of Faridabad and Gurugram districts of Haryana state.
- It is also part of the Sariska-Delhi Wildlife Corridor, which runs from the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan to Delhi Ridge.
It is one of the oldest fold mountains of the world which runs in a southwest direction, starting near Delhi, passing through southern Haryana and Rajasthan, and ending in Gujarat. The highest peak is Guru Shikharat 1,722 metres (5,650 ft). Three major rivers originate from the Aravali hills, namely Banas, Sahibi and Luni River (which flows into the Rann of Kutch).
- Hotels and resorts: will not be allowed within 1 km of the boundary of the protected area or up to the extent of the Eco-Sensitive Zone, whichever is nearer.
- Construction: only “Small temporary structures” for eco-tourism activities.
- Small scale non polluting industries
- Felling of trees
- Civic infrastructure
- Commercial mining
- Stone quarrying
- Industrial and polluting industries
- Saw mills brick kilns
- Rain water harvesting
- Organic farming
- Cottage industries
About Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary
Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area located in the southern part of Delhi, India. The sanctuary covers an area of approximately 6.5 square kilometres and is home to a variety of flora and fauna.
- The sanctuary is part of the Delhi Ridge, which is a green belt that helps in maintaining the ecological balance of the region.
- The sanctuary is also an important habitat for several endangered species and is crucial for their survival.
- Flora: it has a rich variety of flora including more than 200 species of plants such as Dhau, Phulahi, Tendu, Khair, Ber and Neem. In addition, there are several species of grasses and shrubs in the sanctuary.
- Fauna: It is home to a variety of animals, including several species of mammals, reptiles, and birds. Some of the common animals found in the sanctuary are the Indian crested porcupine, black-naped hare, Indian gray mongoose, Indian palm civet, Indian peafowl, rock pigeon, and blue rock thrush.
- The sanctuary also has several species of snakes such as the Indian rock python, common krait, and Indian cobra.
- Tourism and activities: It offers several activities for nature enthusiasts such as nature walks, bird watching, and wildlife photography. The sanctuary also has several hiking trails that offer scenic views of the surrounding area.
Flora and Fauna of Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary
Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, including:
- Trees: Dhok (Anogeissus pendula), teak (Tectona grandis), sheesham (Dalbergia sissoo), khejri (Prosopis cineraria), neem (Azadirachta indica), ber (Ziziphus mauritiana), babool (Acacia nilotica)
- Shrubs: Carissa spinarum, Lantana camara, Zizyphus nummularia, Capparis spinosa, Maytenus emarginatus
- Grasses: Heteropogon contortus, Apluda mutica, Eremochloa ophiuroides, Dichanthium annulatum, Pennisetum typhoideum
- Herbs: Aerva javanica, Boerhavia diffusa, Achyranthes aspera, Tribulus terrestris, Cynodon dactylon.
- Mammals: Leopard (Panthera pardus), nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), black-naped hare (Lepus nigricollis), Indian gray mongoose (Herpestes edwardsii), Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus), Indian crested porcupine (Hystrix indica), golden jackal (Canis aureus), jungle cat (Felis chaus)
- Birds: Indian vulture (Gyps indicus), crested hawk-eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus), red-wattled lapwing (Vanellus indicus), painted spurfowl (Galloperdix lunulata), Indian robin (Saxicoloides fulicatus), common woodshrike (Lanius cristatus), sirkeer malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus), Indian scops owl (Otus bakkamena)
- Reptiles: Indian rock python (Python molurus), Indian cobra (Naja naja), common krait (Bungarus caeruleus), Indian monitor lizard (Varanus bengalensis), spotted pond tortoise (Geochelone denticulata)
- Amphibians: Common toad (Bufo melanostictus), Indian bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus), Indian green frog (Rhacophorus macrodactylus)
- Butterflies: Common Indian crow (Euploea core), blue admiral (Limenitis archippus), common gray butterfly (Lycaena pheretes), common mime (Junonia hierta), red pierid (Artogeia janata)
- Other insects: Dragonflies, damselflies, bees, wasps, ants, termites.
Asola Bhatti Sanctuary Seed Bank Initiative
The Asola Bhatti Sanctuary Seed Bank Initiative is a joint effort between the Forest Department and the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) aimed at the conservation and restoration of indigenous plant species in the Aravalli Hills of Delhi, India. The initiative involves collecting, storing and propagating seeds of native plants with the ultimate goal of reintroducing these species to the sanctuary and raising awareness of the importance of biodiversity.
- To preserve the genetic diversity of native plant species in the Aravallis
- To reintroduce native plant species that have disappeared or become rare in the sanctuary
- To raise awareness about the importance of native plants and their role in maintaining healthy ecosystems
- To create a sustainable source of native plant saplings for afforestation and landscaping projects
- Collection of seeds from native plants across Delhi and other parts of the Aravalli range
- Processing and storage of seeds in a climate-controlled facility
- Propagation of seeds in a nursery to raise saplings for reintroduction
- Monitoring of reintroduced plant populations to assess their success
- Outreach and education programs to promote the importance of native plants
- Conservation of native plant species and their associated biodiversity
- Restoration of the natural ecosystem of the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary
- Improved air quality and reduced soil erosion
- Enhanced aesthetic appeal and recreational opportunities for visitors
- Education and awareness about the importance of native plants
Ecotourism and Visitor Attractions
Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary is a popular ecotourism destination, offering visitors a chance to experience nature amidst the urban sprawl of Delhi. The sanctuary has a network of walking trails and observation towers, providing opportunities for wildlife spotting and nature walks. Neeli Jheel, a large quarry lake, is a popular spot for birdwatching. The sanctuary also has a visitor center with exhibitions on the flora and fauna of the region.
Why Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary is important?
The Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary holds several important ecological, conservation, and educational values, making it a significant area within the urban landscape of Delhi:
(i) Biodiversity Conservation: The sanctuary is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, including several species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. It provides a refuge for wildlife in an urban setting and contributes to the conservation of biodiversity, especially in the context of an increasingly urbanized environment.
(ii) Ecosystem Services: The sanctuary plays a role in providing essential ecosystem services such as air purification, water regulation, and carbon sequestration. It helps maintain a healthier environment and contributes to the overall well-being of the region.
(iii) Wildlife Corridor: Positioned adjacent to the Aravalli hill range, the sanctuary serves as a vital wildlife corridor that allows animals to move between the hills and the plains. This connectivity is crucial for maintaining genetic diversity and facilitating the movement of species, helping to prevent genetic isolation.
(iv) Recreational and Eco-Tourism: Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary provides a space for people to connect with nature, enjoy outdoor activities, and appreciate wildlife. The sanctuary’s trails, walking paths, and birdwatching opportunities make it a popular destination for recreational activities.
(v) Habitat Restoration: The sanctuary has undergone efforts to restore and rehabilitate degraded habitats, contributing to the enhancement of local ecosystems and the establishment of healthier habitats for native flora and fauna.
(vi) Historical and Cultural Value: The area around the sanctuary is also rich in history, with sites like Neeli Jheel showcasing the historical heritage of the region, adding cultural significance to its conservation efforts.
(vii) Urban Green Space: The sanctuary provides a green lung within the urban sprawl of Delhi, offering residents and visitors a peaceful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.
Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary is a valuable resource for the conservation of wildlife and the preservation of the Aravalli hills. By visiting the sanctuary, you can contribute to the protection of this important ecosystem and experience the beauty of nature in the heart of Delhi.