O P Sharma Vidyarthi, IFS
Zoos and Wildlife protected areas around the world are being looked upon as centres for imparting education and spreading awareness about wild animals and plants with their habitat concerns and conservation scenario .With urban concrete conglomerations fast stretching out in all corners, such spaces are a boon for the city dwellers. A visit to Zoo can be a picnic for fun but it provides a readymade large captive audience for spreading awareness about conservation and wildlife issues .
Ramnagar wildlife sanctuary and Manda Zoo near Jammu is not only morning walker’s paradise and abode for wildlife researchers but it has a great potential in spreading green consciousness among visitors under Ecotourism as well. Manda has unique assemblage of dry deciduous trees and shrubs as well as subtropical animals to attract nature lovers. It is the only green lung located near Jammu city overlooking river Tawi as an ideal locale for studying and enjoying nature .
Nature lovers and wildlife trekkers can enjoy unique diversity of trees like Tinish Tree, Ougeinia oojeinensis (Sannan in Dogri), Tree of Sadness, Nyctanthes arbor tristis (Koori in Dogri), Toothbrush Tree, Acacia modesta (Phulaai), Beaded Pod Tree, Acacia nilotica, Black Cutch Tree, Acacia catechu (Kher in Dogri), Frywood Tree, Albizia lebbeck (Sareen in Dogri), Indian Gooseberry, Emblica officinalis (Aami in Dogri), Wild Krishan Kadamb, Mitragyna parvifolia (Kaim in Dogri), Wild Persimmon Tree (Rajain in Dogri), False Quinine Tree, Hymenodictyon excelsum (Kunaina in Dogri), Parrot Tree, Butea monosperma (Palaah in Dogri), Drumstick Tree, Moringa oleifera (Sohaanjana in Dogri), Buffalo Horn Tree, Oroxylum indicum (Taatra, Marinjan in Dogri), White Teak, Gmelina arborea (Chitti Kanseer in Dogri), Java Plum, Syzygium cuminii (Dhallan in Dogri), Wood Apple Tree, Aegle marmelos (Bill Pattri in Dogri), Monkey Face Tree, Mallotus philippensis (Kamilla in Dogri), Wild Heliotrope Tree, Ehretia laevis (Chamrode in Dogri), Popcorn Tree, Sapium sebiferum (Makhan in Dogri), Garlic Pear Tree, Crataeva adansonii (Baarna in Dogri), Chacolate Twig Tree, Elaeodendron glaucum (Ganger, Gangeda, Marindu in Dogri), Agnimanth Tree, Premna latifolia (Kali Kanseer in Dogri), Nettle Tree, Trema politoria (Dand Koochan in Dogri), Indian Coral Tree, Erythrina indica (Thubb in Dogri), Cluster Fig Tree, Ficus racemosa (Rumbal in Dogri), Red Cedar Tree, Toona ciliata (Tun in Dogri), Indian Ash Tree, Lannea coromandelica (Kaimbal, Gadhambal in Dogri), Silk Cotton Tree, Bombax ceiba (Simbal in Dogri), Curry leaf Tree, Murraya koenigii (Drounkal in Dogri), Golden Shower Tree, Cassia fistula (Karangal, Karoungal in Dogri), Hoop Tree, Pride of India, Melia azedarach (Dhraink in Dogri), Wild Flueggea, Securinega virosa (Raathal in Dogri), Wild Kydia, Kydia calycina (Pullah in Dogri), Easter Tree, Holarrhaena pubescens (Kogad in Dogri) and others.
Manda Zoo has attractive assembelage of butterflies like Peacock Pansy (Mor Phanfadi in Dogri),Blue Pansy (Neeli Phanfadi) ,Grass Yellow, Lime Butterfly (Nimbu Phanfadi in Dogri), Sailor, Plain Tiger, waterfowl including Mallard, Coot (Tikkri), Spotbilled duck, Barheaded geese (Rajhans) , elegant peafowls (Mor, Myura), Cinerous vulture (Gridh), Barn Owls (Ulloo), Eagles, Parakeets, Barking deer (Kakkad), Hog deer (Paada in Dogri), Sambar, Cheetal , Neelgai (Goond in Dogri), Porcupine (Seyh in Dogri) , Himalayan Black Bear (Haput in Kashmiri, Richh in Dogri), Leopard (Chitra, Mirg in Dogri), Pangolin (Sarkhal, Salla in Dogri). Python (Sangani in Dogri), Monitor Lizard (Gho in Dogri), Black Partridge (Kala Teetar), Grey Partridge is also seen in the wildlife sanctuary. Exotic birds like Turkey and Emu are also seen in Manda zoo. Among other attractive birds, Paradise flycatcher (Poon chiri in Dogri, Doodhraj), Scarlet Minivet (Surkholi in Dogri, Rajlal, Bulalchashm in Hindi ), Tailor bird (Darjainu, Darzi), Jungle Babblers (Farol, Sod, Dadder in Dogri), Scarlet sunbird (Lal Angaarta in Dogri), Purple sunbird (Angaarta, Shakarkhora in Urdu), Indian Grey Hornbill (Doaa in Dogri, Dhanesh in Hindi), Green Pigeon (Preu in Dogri, Hariyal in Hindi), Fan flycatcher (Pakhi Phatoonu in Dogri), Barbets (Kudroo in Dogri, Basanta in Hindi), Hawk Cuckoo (Papeeha), Bulbuls (Peenja in Dogri) , Weaver bird (Baregdu in Dogri, Baya in Hindi) with their sweet melodies and artistic nesting behaviour add further thrill and charm to the nature walk in the wilderness around .
Role of Manda zoo and Wildlife sanctuary need to be further diversified under Ecotourism with scope for students of schools and colleges to enjoy nature and visit innovative green stalls having focus on ethnic cusines like Kalaadi kulcha, Alu khameera, Tinbru chutteny, Tarad achaar, Sohanjana achaar, Guaalmada, Katraid sabzi, local folk healers with herbal products like Jyotishmati oil, Kamarkass, Nazposh sherbet, Kachnar halwa, Vidarikand churn, Meda lakkadi, Tinbru datum, Amara, kamarakh fruits, herbal shampoos, cosmetics for sale, wildlife researchers to tell tree tales and conservation strategies, heritage story tellers to talk about historical myths and facts, nature photographers to display nature’s grandeur and artists to present colourful landscapes in Basohli and Kangada paintings, dramatists and musicians to present skits and songs on Dogra /Kashmiri /Ladakhi culture and reflect on manifestations in the wonders of nature.