The ideal open grasslands with original vegetation are no more seen in IITM campus. The open areas with some features of grasslands are mostly found in and around the academic zone and the hostel zone in IITM campus. These are patches of open land between buildings, along the road sides and playgrounds. The most important native, wild species of this habitat is the Blackbuck. A brief discription of the life forms found in these areas is given below:
- Blackbuck (Antelope cervicapra)
Blackbuck is an exclusively Indian animal, earlier distributed almost through out the country and in Nepal and Pakistan, but now restricted to a few isolated pockets. They are highly graceful animals of the antelope family and the only antelope found in India. Blackbuck are one of the original inhabitants of this forest area, especially the open grasslands. They live in habitats which are essentially dry in nature and feed on short grass, various herbs and shrubs, flowers, leaves and fallen fruits of certain trees etc. Their water requirement is met from the dew on found on grass in vast open spaces. If one would like to see them, the places to look for are the various stadia, road sides, quadrangles of departments, buildings, hostels etc.Their habitat in IIT campus extends westward from the main stadium, especially in the academic and hostel zones (see the map for their habiatat area). They have a special liking for selected items of vegetation and these are seen mainly in the open spaces mentioned above. Many plant species required for the blackbuck have disappeared from the campus due to contiuous clearing programmes.
Blackbuck are seen either in groups of 20-30 with males, females and fawns or the single male or groups of males grazing in selected areas. Since the number is much less in IIT to form such herds, they are seen in smaller isolated groups, which changes its constitution at different times of the year. The male blackbuck seen in IIT Campus have lighter shade than the usual black shade found in the northern parts of India. Blackbuck population in the campus is very low (less than 15) compared to what it was few years ago. These animals love open spaces and are very territorial. (Reference: R.K.G.Menon, Resonance, November, 2000).
- Spotted Deer (seen occasionally)
The habitat requirement of spotted deer or Chital can be forests, scrub jungles and open spaces and they require water for their survival. Spotted Deer can be seen all through out the campus due to this feature. They are also seen moving in groups, but the male dominance except in the mating season is less. They camouflage easily with the surroundings in dry deciduous forests like this. They are also seen grazing on vegetable and fruit peels left in the open dust bins.
Various other species like star tortoise, birds like frankolins and lapwings etc. are birds which can be seen in open grasslands. Due to the high levels of disturbances in these areas, these birds and many other species of plants are missing in IIT campus. These species can be still observed in areas like GNP, Nanmangalam etc. where some of the original vegetation is still remaining.
Flora including bushes, climbers, small trees etc. and various types of grass . This forms the feeding ground for the Blackbuck and other animals mentioned.
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