Dr. Kelühol Tase Takes on Mission to Conserve and Revive Endangered Rhododendron Trees in Nagaland

In a race against extinction, Dr. Kelühol Tase has embarked on a mission to conserve and rejuvenate the Rhododendron tree, revered as the state flower of Nagaland. In a conversation with our correspondent, Dr. Tase fondly recalled his childhood fascination and deep love for Rhododendrons, the captivating ornamental flowers.

Having served as the vice principal at Kros College and registrar at St. Joseph’s College, Dr. Tase felt a calling to pursue a greater purpose. Motivated by his passion, he established “Rhododendron Park Jakhama,” a visionary venture aimed at preserving these delicate flora. The park was inaugurated on November 28, 2022, by former Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang.

Dr. Tase highlighted the critical state of Rhododendron species, particularly the endangered R. Watti, due to rampant forest fires in the Dzukou valley and ongoing human activities. According to the Botanical Survey of India (BSI), these beautiful flowers were teetering on the edge of extinction. Therefore, he stressed the urgent need for their revival and conservation.

Renowned for their medicinal properties, Rhododendron petals and leaves have long been used to alleviate various ailments, including gout, arthritis, and bronchitis. Additionally, folklore suggests that consuming the plant’s petals can dislodge fish bones stuck in the throat.

Alarming research conducted by the Botanic Gardens Conservation International in their comprehensive 128-page Red List of Rhododendrons report in 2011 revealed that a staggering 25% of Rhododendron species—1157 varieties—were facing the imminent threat of extinction.

Dr. Tase’s unwavering commitment to the preservation of these extraordinary trees provides hope for the future of Rhododendrons in Nagaland. His tireless efforts serve as a reminder of the delicate balance between human activities and the conservation of nature’s treasures.

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