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Looking for exotic species at the Guindy National Park

By P. Oppili

CHENNAI, NOV. 15. Wildlife officials are set to study the distribution of plants and the availability of fodder in the Guindy National Park and also find out if any exotic species are present.

Six hectares on the eastern side of the park have been earmarked for the study, according to K.S.S.V.P. Reddy, Chennai Wildlife Warden.

The study will also record the density of grass and growth of herbs and shrubs in the area, and explore the link between the native animal species and plants at the park.

Several new species of plants are introduced into the park unwittingly by people or birds, wildlife officials say.

Whether such new species could affect the native fauna — spotted deer and blackbuck — and if so, the extent -- is something that needs to be studied, say officials.

Mr. Reddy says that the authorities want to synchronise the annual wildlife census inside the park with the floristic study every year hereafter.

"This will help us document relations between the plants and animals in the park," says Mr. Reddy.

Ponds fill up

The recent rains are good news for the park authorities.

Last year, both the monsoons failed to bring enough water to the park, forcing the authorities to seek the help of a hydrologist from Anna University to sink a borewell.

This year, all four ponds in the park have filled up.

Just before the rains, three more ponds were dug on the eastern side of the park, which have also filled up, Mr. Reddy says.

With Appalangulam, a major water source slowly filling up, migratory birds are expected to arrive before the month-end.

Migratory birds such as teals, garganeys, pochards, open-billed storks and little grebes did not arrive in the expected numbers last year at the Appalangulam tank given the shortage of water.

Medium and large egrets, night and pond herons, are some of the local migratory birds sighted at the Appalangulam tank, says park biologist G. Kamaraj.

The 270-hectare park, the only natural forest within the city, attracts 500 visitors every year, mostly children.

To visit the park, contact the Wildlife Warden's Office at DMS Complex, Anna Salai, Teynampet (phone: 24321471) or the Children's Park, Guindy.

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