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Sessa Orchid Wildlife Sanctuary

Sessa Orchid Sanctuary is a 100 km2 protected area of India in the Himalayan foothills in Bhalukpong Forest Division of West Kameng District, Arunachal Pradesh. It conjoins Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary to the southwest. It is a part of the Kameng Protected Area Complex (KPAC), which is an Elephant Reserve. See map. The department of Environment & Forests has developed trekking routes for visitors to enjoy the natural habitats of orchids. There are deep gorges and valleys, high peaks and rugged terrain that are rewarding for nature lovers and adventure tourists. A nursery includes representative specimens of various orchid species of the sanctuary and a demonstration farm of Cymbidium hybrids for cut-flower production. Most of Sessa has traditionally been claimed by the Bugun tribe as part of their territory.

From Seijusa one reaches at Tipi crossing Bhalukpong after a drive of about three hours through the foot hill region of Assam. Crossing the innerline at Bhalukpong under West Kameng district the hill tract starts and through the road Bomdila-Tawang and you reach Tipi. The scenic beauty of the landscape is so charming with sight of rapids of the Kameng River creating a feeling of dreamland. Here at the Western bank of Kameng river an orchidarium stands with the assignment of culturing and propagation of orchids of Arunachal Pradesh. Orchids are a special plant of warm tropical moist area. The population of Orchid diminishes as one proceeds towards poles from tropics. Orchids are found both terrestrial and as well epiphytic. Baring a few terrestrial variety most of the orchids are epiphytic – the plants is a herb and grows on the trunk and branches of trees having the proper conditions which orchid needs for its survival. The life cycle of orchid has a peculiar association with the fungus; the association is only possible at a site where the site is conducive for the growth of fungus. Another association of orchid is moss, which grows plenty on the bole, trunk and branches of trees available inside the tropical evergreen and semi evergreen forest. The orchids of epiphytic type have special type of organ known a velamen, a special spongy an absorbing type of tissue system. It hangs from the branch and site of its supporting place. The tissue absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, which is very high inside the tropical evergreen and semi evergreen forests. It produces microscopic seeds in huge quantity and dispersed like dust by wind. But germination % is very low. The fertile seed unless infected by fungus will not germinate, so the conducive ecological condition is very much necessary for the propagation of orchids. After germination the baby needs a site of moss growing branches or bole of tree for its establishment. The plant is epiphytic not parasitic, as a result it draws the nutrition from the base of moss site and moisture from the atmosphere by the velamen tissue. After establishing it starts flowering after two to three years. There are about 20,000 varieties of orchids in the world out of which about 1200 accounts in India. The ecological condition and climate variation in Arunachal Pradesh is so much favourable that the state holds about 60% of the Indian variety of orchids. Till today about 605 spp. of orchids of Arunachal Pradesh have been identified and the work is in progress. The flowering of orchids depends on the seasonal condition and variation. Some orchids starts flowering from September to throughout winter i.e. upto February and some are in bloom from March to September. So the orchids in Arunachal Pradesh are in bloom throughout the year. The orchid is valued for its flower. Nature with its own system makes special features to its flower that has unparallel beauty and appeal. The floral parts so intricately arranged that attracts the selective eyes of any person and makes him spell bound to enjoy the sight. The flower invites insects for its pollination, a process for multiplication in nature. The insects carry the pollen grains from one flower to another, which cross with the female parts, and fertilization takes place to produce seeds. There are varieties of orchids like Cymbidium spp., Dendrobium spp., Erica spp., Aracus spp., Selogenia spp., Agrostophyllum spp. etc. the Cymbidium spp., is most costly and has a value in the international market comparing to Dendrobium spp. The floral axis of Dendorbium is tall and bears number of flowers. The inflorescence is fascinating and charming that gives the value of this variety. The main character of its flower is longevity, colour and the attraction. It is a sweet gift with remembrance to one’s sweet heart! So the Arunachal Pradesh is proud for this natural gift of almighty and crated a home for this spp. of plants. It is the duty and endeavor for the all the people of Arunachal Pradesh and the forest executive to conserve and protect the habitat of these plants. If the ecological condition is disturbed for any immediate gain, such a special gift of nature will lost and for which only to blame us for short term greed and gain. Once this is lost no body spending any amount of money can bring back the ecosystem, which is so dedicate, and fragile. Considering the above a Orchid Sanctuary has been created vide notification dtd.18.10.86 under section 18 of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 with the name Sessa Orchid Sanctuary. The area of this Sanctuary is 100 Sq.Km. This patch of forest provides ideal home for orchids with other component of the ecosystem of forest vegetation. The evergreen forest with its close canopy stands with pristine glory. This Sanctuary will provide scope for the researcher to know more about the biotic elements for their research. The flora not only the trees but also about the micro organism and bigger animal which play a definite role to create a conductive condition in situ and ex-situ for the survival of future generation. It is endeavor to the entire nature lover to create a sentiment for the cause of conservation. There is one orchidarium at Tipi, which is engaged in the mission of conservation, protection and multiplication of orchids. As already discussed that the propagation and germination of orchid is so delicate that has always a risk factor. It is necessary to develop the knowledge and technology for it’s ex situ culture. The orchid centre a Tipi is playing a great role in this field. It has a nursery of orchids as well a tissue culture laboratory. It is a very intricate process and has different stages. The propagation also is done at this laboratory through the minute seeds creating an artificial media and condition for germination. Visit to this centre is really a meaningful both for learning and for exhibit. There are varieties of orchids like Cymbidium spp., Dendrobium spp., Erica spp., Aracus spp., Selogenia spp., Agrostophyllum spp. etc. the Cymbidium spp., is most costly and has a value in the international market comparing to Dendrobium spp. The floral axis of Dendorbium is tall and bears number of flowers. The inflorescence is fascinating and charming that gives the value of this variety. The main character of its flower is longevity, colour and the attraction.

INTRODUCTION: Arunachal Pradesh is known for its rich flora and fauna and is considered to be one of the “ Biodiversity Hot Spots” in the world. One of important floristic diversity that exists in this enchanting land is the Orchids- the loveliest of all booms and the fondest creation of Mother Nature and “Donyi-Polo”. In India there are about 12000 species of Orchids known to occur, out of which as many as 610 species and found in Arunachal Pradesh alone. Realizing the potential of orchids in floriculture and endangered status of number of ornamental species an Orchid Sanctuary has been established in the year 1979 to study/conserve and propagate large number of Orchids in their natural habitat. It is significant to note that Sessa Orchid Sanctuary is a natural home for year 200 species of Orchid in addition to other wild flora and fauna.

LOCATION: Sessa Orchid Sanctuary is situated in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh and falls between 270 3 -270 11 N and 920 23.4 – 920 36 E. Itt was established in 1979. Its original area of about 85 hectares was subsequently extended to over 100 sq. km so as to provide natural habitat for a greater number of orchids. At present it comprises Doimara and Tenga reserve forests. The Sanctuary was notified in November, 1989, under the Wildlife protection Act, 1972, by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh.

Climate and Vegetation Sessa Orchid Sanctuary has a complex topography with deep valleys and hills ranging between an altitude of 6000 m and 3076 m. Two high rising peaks (3076 m and 3075 m) form a ridge near the middle of the Sanctuary and these are surrounded by a number of lesser hill formations with heights varying from 1400 m to 2902 m. A number of rivers and rivulets, originating from here, render the atmosphere wet and humid and add to the beauty of the landscape through numerous waterfalls. All the hills, here, are densely covered with a variety of tropical, and alpine vegetation. The Sanctuary receives almost continuous rainfall from April to October. During the winter months (November and February), the higher peaks of the Sanctuary experience snow fall.

In the Sub tropical zone, Altingia exelsa, Michelia champaca, M. oblonga, Schima wallichii, Syzygium cummuni, Englehardtia spicata, Litsaea spp, and Cinnamomum sp. are some of the common tree species. These harbour a variety of orchids. Ferns, mosses and bamboos comprise the ground growing vegetation.

In the temperate zone, trees of Quercus and Rhododendron from the main vegetation. The trunks and branches of these trees support a thick growth of different species of mosses.

In the slpine zone, the dominant woody species are those of Tsuga, Cedrus, Betula, Populus and bamboos

Orchid Flora: Ever since its creation in 1979, several field explorations have been carried out in the Sanctuary to study the distribution pattern of various orchid species. The area explored till date is shown in the map. These explorations have yielded 183 species in 55 genera. Of these, 144 are epiphytes and 39 terrestrial including 6 saprophytic. A complete list of the orchids recorded from here is given in Table 1. Some new, rare, and ornamental species are illustrated.


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