A few days ago, I was taking a short walk on campus when I came across Professor Sudhakar Marathe busy taking close-up photographs of a flower. It was pretty enough but quite ordinary, and indeed quite unlike some of the extraordinary forms of life that he had photographed (and shared) a few months ago. In July he copied me in on a letter that goes: I am attaching pictures of just a few of the 28 different forms of life I photographed today (25 July, not including the various mushrooms that I photographed also) on the University of Hyderabad campus […] the enormous and easily determined overt biodiversity in the campus (Obviously, microlife simply cannot be recorded in this way.)

The place is simply teeming with life: virtually all the pictures I am sending were taken within 15 feet of the Humanities building […] the Administration parking lot and […] the end of the Humanities concourse.

In an earlier mail, he wrote that he “happened to have this camera that very cleverly takes incredibly good pictures of “all things great and small”. It needs much more than a clever small camera to record these images, and what I’ve shown on this page are just a few of an incredible collection of photographs that he has, by his reckoning some 15000 or more. He ran the Nature Club at the University for over 15 years and published a Nature Newsletter for eight years- with some superb illustrations by Prof. Vipin Srivastava.

The campus biodiversity is, of course, huge. Not just in flora, but also fauna, both large and small. Professor Marathe’s inventory of more than 800 species will find a way of being made available to all of us, and this post is just a teaser of what there is. And also an invitation to all of you who care about the present biota of the campus, to send in your photographs or drawings…

The header of the blog now shows one of Professor Marathe’s recent pictures, that of “a small spider just about half an inch long wearing a red crown-jewel, which is actually a parasitic bug (about 1/32 of an inch long); the spider is trying to hide from my gaze (or the camera’s gaze at any rate), yet curiously looking round the stalk of a vine on which I found it to see what kind of spider-gobbling creature I might be. If you look carefully, you will even see the two thin and pale antennae of the tiny parasitic bug!” And elsewhere, the School of Humanities building imaged in a water drop on an oleander flower.

Like Blake, he is able to see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower…

And through his eyes and camera, we also see many other wonders. Enjoy!


8 thoughts on “Nature@UoH

  1. Indeed our university is biodiversity rich campus. But each time going for some or other construction work in university we forget that. Few examples like poor sewage in hostel and mess of j and K which pour waste waster in open drainage and burning of waste instead of collecting and recycling. All these different types of wastes are eating our biodiversity at much faster rate than we can imagine.

  2. Rich biodiversity of the campus has been a pride of UoH, which is fortunately intact over the decades. When the narration of diversity of life forms stems from the Vice Chancellor it assumes special significance. Nature lovers (who admired Profs . Sudhakar and Vipin for the newsletter and the illustrations) will have increased confidence that approriate measures would be taken to preserve the natural diversity for scientific reasons or even otherwise. The WWF was to document the ‘macro’ biodiversity (flora and fauna) of UoH and bring out a book with pictures; a project that was envisaged 5 years back. The stuatus of such report needs to be verified. Prof. Marathe, with his passionate feelings for the biodiversity, may closely associate with such activity of the University.

    The Department of Plant Sciences submitted a proposal to the XI plan committee to use scientific approaches that woudl allow UoH to preserve, show-case and educate the public on the importance of biodiversity, of course on plant diversity. Unfortunately other requirements got priority over this apparently ‘insignificant proposal’ that was developed as an outreach activity (University-Society interface). The Department has also accumulated expertise, in fact a lead centre in describing the bacterial diversity, in recroding the ‘micro(bial)life’ that Prof. Marathe is unable to capture with his magic camera lens (let us remember that the mushrooms that he has photographed indeed represent one ofthe major components of the microlife – mushrooms being the fruiting bodies of fungi that have strong beneficial association with plant roots).

    This post certainly is a pleasant moment for nature lovers @UoH thinking of the feast ahead.

  3. Dear All –

    There is an M.Phil. dissertation work “Enumeration and Assessment of the University of Hyderabad Campus Plant Resources” during 1985-86 by K. Seshagiri Rao, guided by M.N.V. Prasad [ – Call Number, TH570 Se71E Publisher: University of Hyderabad, 1 copy is available at IGM Library (1 available) Online on UoH. The author collected the data of 420 species within an year (the data for partial full-fulfillment M.Phil. dissertation that time). The data was several occasions pirated by a person for ICRISAT/show to other visitors and 73 species collections directly incorporated/quoted/pirated in the Flora of Ranga Reddy District in the Ph.D. thesis of M.Silar Mohammed submitted to Sri Krishna Devaraya University (published as a book “Flora of Ranga Reddy District, Andhra Pradesh, India, 2000, publisher Regency Publications, New Delhi) without acknowledging either author or our University of Hyderabad!

    Eventually the list is increasing (updated on September 10, 2003 at the website and listed 734 flowering plant species on the campus including several Threatened Taxa under IUCN!!. It is interesting to note that the number of recorded species from the campus is higher than the numbers recorded in entire districts in Andhra Pradesh: Ranga Reddy (694 species; Flora of Ranga Reddy District – T.Pullaiah & M.Silar Mohammad, 2000), Medak (704 species; Flora of Medak District – T.Pullaiah et al., 1998), Adilabad (673 species; Flora of Adilabad District – T.Pullaiah et al., 1992) and Nalgonda (506 species; Flora of Nalgonda District – P.N.Rao et al., 2001). Also listed plants belong to Angiosperms only. The Cryptogramic plants (Algae, Fungi, Bryophytes and Pteridophytes which may be more than 500 species or more) yet to be enumerated and identified. This abundance suggests a need to conserve the plant wealth of the campus.

    Comment on the beautiful flower – Botanical Name: Barleria prionitis L. (Family: Acanthaceae).

    With best regards – Kottapalli Seshagirirao (Quote of the week: Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor’d mind – Sees God in clouds or hear him in the wind – POPE, in Essay on Man, I )

  4. As an avid birdwatcher and wildlife-lover, I can vouch for that! Our campus is beautiful in terms of its flora and fauna. Just cycling by the Humanities department, I have spotted so many species of bird including the Magpie Robin, the Indian Robin, the Drongo, and even some more shy kinds of birds like the Golden Oriole and the Roller bird. On the way to Peacock Lake they get easier to spot. The water birds around the lakes are breathtaking too. There are lots of common Kingfishers and even some Pied Kingfishers, which are very beautiful. The cormorants sunning their wings on rocks in the middle of the lake is also a beautiful sight. The herons and Darter birds diving for their fish is always great to catch. And it amuses me greatly to spot an egret or two hitching a ride on the back of a lazy buffalo!
    Closer to our hostels too, in fact, there is lots of bird life that has grown accustomed to humans. Parakeets and barbets are a common sight and make a loud racket all day. I was thrilled to spot a mother Button Quail and her five tiny chicks making their way into the undergrowth near the food court one afternoon! And even though the boar that run through the campus are said to be dangerous, it is always heartening to spot a mother with her brood hurrying from one side of the road to the other!

    I could go on and on about the wonderful animal- and bird-life this campus is home to but maybe like Marathe Sir I should get a good camera to do all the talking!

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