A nature lover is working hard to preserve rare varieties of orchids that bloom on the hills in Khagrachhari.
Sathowai Marma has a collection of 55 varieties of the flower in his home yard at Rajyomoni neighbourhood in the hilly district.
The 33-year-old man has taken the move simply to raise awareness among the indigenous community not out of any commercial purpose. “They are not for sale. Many common species are becoming extinct day by day due to deforestation. That is why, I have taken the initiative to preserve the species,” Sathowai told this paper recently when this correspondent visited his home.
The varieties in his yard include Dendrobium Lindley, Dendrobium Crepidatum, Dendrobium Pierardi, Dendrobium Fimbriatum, Aridies Odorata, and Foxtail orchid.
Sathowai was seen watering a plethora of yellow, white and pink orchids shining in the yard. “I started collecting orchids around five years ago. I have visited many remote hilly areas in search of rare species.”
Hilly orchids bloom between February and April although some species blossom round the year, according to Sathowai. “My fascination for orchids grew a few years ago. I promised myself that I will preserve some of the nearly extinct species. Whenever I hear about a new species growing somewhere, I rush to the spot to collect it.”
Sathowai told this paper that alongside deforestation, tourists are also responsible for many orchid species becoming extinct in the area. “With the help of brokers, tourists take away orchids in bulks. So it is our responsibility to protect the domestic resource.
“The plants need to be watered twice a day in summer and once a day in winter. So it is important to touch the base first to see if it is dry or not,” said Sathowai.
Sathowai has created a Facebook page -- “Hill Orchid Society” -- to raise awareness on the necessity of preserving hilly orchids.
Many youths are following his path. Vashiu Chowdhury from Khagrachhari and Anuriddho Khisa from Rangamati are some of them.
Talking to this newspaper, the two praised Sathowai for his initiative.
Talking to The Daily Star, Munshi Rashid Ahmad, chief scientific officer at Hill Agricultural Research Station, Khagrachhari, said, “I appreciate the initiative. I will take necessary measures to preserve hilly orchids.”An orchid storage centre would be built at the research station in this connection, he added.