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Biodiversity takes centre stage in Odisha’s silent valley

Mandasaru, 300 km south of Bhubaneswar, is a unique gorge ecosystem in the eastern part of Kandhamal district of Odisha. It is named after the rocks on a hill that narrow towards the top, Manda meaning rock and Saru meaning a narrow progression.

While the lower riparian and moist valleys have semi-evergreen forests, moist deciduous forests cover the slopes of the gorge and dry deciduous forests the top plateaus. Frequent weather changes and the surroundings make Mandasaru a cousin of the Silent Valley of the Western Ghats.

Covering an area of 5.28 sq km, the 22-meter deep gorge houses 1,563 recorded varieties of plants, animals and fungi species. “Mandasaru is rich in biodiversity with two species of otters, about 40 orchids, 150 medicinal plant species, a number of wild food plants and tubers, nearly 125 mushroom species of which 20 are edible,” Prasad Kumar Dash, scientist at Odisha Biodiversity Board, told VillageSquare.in.

According to Mandasaru – The Biological Paradise of Eastern Ghats of India, a report published by divisional forest office, Phulbani (Kandhamal) in 2017, the gorge harbors terrestrial, aquatic, arboreal, and cave-dwelling fauna comprising 30 species of mammals, 150 species of birds, 148 butterfly species and more than 100 other species of different categories.

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