Would you like to take a nature walk around our Mangalore campus?
When we started building this campus in 2007, our plan was to nurture indigenous species and promote local flora. The rocky laterite bed posed a challenge for us to do so.
We studied the local flora and fauna in detail. As our Green Initiatives team gained more knowledge on the subject, the idea of creating a bio-park within the campus emerged.
Today, the bio-park has close to 330 species of flora and many species of fauna.
Catch a glimpse of the varieties of flora and fauna in our own bio-park...
Flora in our bio-park
Cocos nucifera and Areca catechu
The ancient coconut and betel nut trees in the bio-park have been bracing the salty winds from the Arabian Sea for ages.
The coconut palm, with a variety of uses for every part of it, is aptly called the Tree of Life. The campus has close to 1,000 coconut trees and the produce from these are donated to the Akshaya Patra Foundation for its mid-day meal program.
Gaze beyond the betel nut trees, and you will see the Beach Morning Glory vine dress up the area in delicate green and lilac hues. This vine is commonly found on tropical and subtropical beaches, and is a colonizer and an excellent sand-binder. It is also used in folk medicine for treating gastrointestinal problems and inflammation.
Down the stone pathway, the Zephyr lily (also called the Fairy Lily) blooms delicate and beautiful amidst the green. The flower resembles a new leaf before it blossoms. Insects make a beeline for its nectar as the Zephyr lily blossoms only for a day.
Hibiscus rosa sinensis
The Hibiscus blossoms lavished by dew regularly attract hummingbirds and butterflies. A flowering species from the mallow family, Malvaceae, it loves tropical and warm temperate climates. The funnel-shaped flowers come in a variety of colors with long attractive stamens. Dried Hibiscus flowers are used as tea in several countries.
Can you feel a sweet smell filling the air? That’s because we have reached the golden Champak tree, with its lovely fragrant flowers. Is it any wonder that these flowers have given us some of the world’s most expensive perfumes? Birds, however, are not attracted so much by the fragrance as by their attractive aril-covered seeds.
What better contrast to the dull brown laterite than the bright yellow-orange of the Emperor’s Candlesticks! In traditional medicine, every part of this perennial shrub finds a use due to its antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
And that bright cluster is the flower of the Asoka tree. Asoka has evergreen beautiful foliage and is considered sacred in several parts of the Indian subcontinent. Its fragrant flowers invite bees and its medicinal properties make it highly valued in Ayurvedic herbology.
These Pink Frangipani are truly nature’s crayon paintings. Widely cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical climates now, old Mexican legend has it that the gods were born from these sweet-scented frangipani flowers.
Bitter Oleander has delicate white flowers and is found in abundance in India up to an altitude of 4,265 feet, especially in the sub-Himalayan tract. This shrub is known for its medicinal properties.
Anyone who has smelt it will agree that the fragrance of the Kadam blossoms is one of the headiest smells you can come across. Needless to say, the flower of this evergreen tropical tree is much in demand in the perfume industry. However, its smell should not make us overlook its lovely, globular appearance which resembles nature’s own pin-cushion.
The Flame Lily is a flowering plant that uses its tendrils to climb over other plants. It has distinctive and pronounced reflexive petals. In some countries, it has found unconventional uses, for instance as arrow poison and snake repellant.
Rock Banana, also called wild plantain, is a well-known plant in the Western Ghats of India. It is hardy and easily adapts to its habitat during the dry months. It is extensively used in tribal medicine in India.
Nymphaea peach glow
The seasonal streams rejuvenate perennial freshwater ponds that are home to the Water Lily. The flowers rise out of the water, blooming during the day or night. The flower has female and male phases. The flower first opens to display the female pistil and then closes at the end of the female phase. In the male phase, it reopens but this time with male stamens. This species keeps the water clean, and the ecosystem is all the better for it.
Fauna in our bio-park
If there are flowers, can insects be far behind? On the colourful and perfumed blossoms like the Lily, you can find scores of Brown Flower Beetles feasting on the nectar. These beetles have an interesting escape trick – they fake death to fool predators. Go on, pick up a beetle and watch it ‘play dead’ on your palms before it casually gets up and crawls away!
Look at this gorgeous Common Jezebel, resting with its wings closed, exhibiting its vivid underside. Do you know why it does that? To ward off predators who interpret the gaudy colors to be toxic.
While they are mostly seen flitting among trees, every now and then they embark on a ‘nectar run’ on the Lantana flowers.
Now, this is a species that deserves respect. The Atlas Moth is the world’s largest moth when it comes to wing surface area. This species does not have a mouth, and lives for a few days only, sustained by its body fat. Their brown silk cocoons are known to be used as exotic pocket-change purses in many parts of the world.
Aptly called the Marbled White Moth, the wings display vivid bold patterns in white along with a dark shade of grey or brown. A day-flying moth, it usually perches atop leaves. It flies very slowly and likes to keep close to the ground.
The Common Mormon is a species of swallowtail butterflies widely found across Asia. This butterfly is known for the ability of its females to mimic inedible, red-bodied swallowtails, such as the common rose and the crimson rose. A smart tactic to ward off predators!
The Indian Luna Moth earns its name because of the ochreous moon spots on its light green wings. It is widespread in the Western Ghats of India and mainly flies by night. It is often spotted near host plants such as hibiscus. With an acute sense of smell, the male can trace a female via her scent from a distance of more than six miles.
There, on that branch, sits a pair of finicky Kingfishers, seemingly preoccupied with choosing the right nesting place. Kingfishers are highly territorial and typically nest in cavities. Quite a few varieties of kingfishers are now threatened by human activities.
Lights, camera, action! Look who is ready for the shot. The Barn Owl has an acute sense of hearing and typically feeds on lizards and insects. Compared to most birds, the barn owl is a slow but steady flier, and this, in fact, works to its advantage by allowing it ample time to locate its prey on the ground.
Someone else seems to be on the lookout for food too. Having zeroed in on an interesting meal, this Monitor Lizard is silently closing in! Monitor lizards have a long neck, a powerful tail and well-developed limbs. They are also known to collaborate with fellow monitors while hunting – while one distracts the prey, another makes the kill.
Taking a break from the strenuous task of loud chattering, this Long-tailed Blackbird seems to have diverted its attention to an unsuspecting supper! These blackbirds have diverse foraging habits and feed on berries, larvae, insects and a host of small reptiles. Sometimes, these blackbirds fish in shallow waters although they cannot swim.
Spotted in our chikoo garden(sapodilla), this Indian Peafowl is about to break into a frenzied dance in the hope of attracting a mate. The male peafowl is predominantly blue with a fan-like crest of spatula-tipped feathers and is best known for its long train of elongated feathers which bear colorful eyespots. These stiff feathers are raised into a fan and quivered in a compelling performance during courtship. The female of this species lacks the train and have dull brown plumage. The peacock primarily feeds on small reptiles.
If you are in our Mangalore campus, you can also watch the queen bee move house! A new bee colony is being formed through a process called swarming, wherein the queen bee, along with a group of worker bees, leaves the colony in search of a new nesting site. Bees are critical to balance the food chain, as they gather pollen and nectar and aid in cross-pollination. Natural bee hives are a common sight at the Mangalore campus. Three varieties of bees, including Tiger bees, seem to have taken a liking towards the bee stations we have installed, and have made it their home.
Lakes and streams
As part of our efforts to harvest rainwater, we have de-silted the existing ponds and added seven new ponds in our campus. These ponds are another favorite haunt of small amphibians, birds and insects.
To complete your nature walk, go past the meandering perennial stream that passes through our campus. These streams regulate the water cycle of the land, enriching the nutrient cycles of lower areas, and act as breeding sites for indigenous species of flora and fauna. The other streams in the campus are rain-fed and seasonal. Laterite, being a porous rock, allows water to seep into the deeper layers of soil, thus raising the ground water table, helping local communities and us get access to potable water throughout the year.
Since the bio-park is part of the campus, it is just a hop skip and jump into an amazing world of sights, sounds and smells. Regular nature walks around the campus by members of our Green Teams have raised awareness and enthusiasm among our employees about the importance of the ecosystem.