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Flora and Fauna of Malda District
Malda district is a low-lying plain and a number of rivers flow through the district. On the basis of topography and drainage pattern, the district can be divided into three physiographic regions i.e. Tal (north portion above river Kalindri), Diara (southern portion below river Kalindri) and Barind (eastern part of river Mahananda). Barind areas extends over a wide area in Malda district covering Gazole, Bamangola, Habibpur and Old Malda Block. The Tal region is situated to the west of Mahananda River and north of Kalindri River. Tal area gradually slopes down towards the south and west and gradually merges with the Diara region. Harishchandrapur-I and Harishchandrapur-II, Chanchal-I, Chanchal-II, Ratua-I and Ratua-II, blocks. are within this region. The 'Diara' region consists of the western and southern sides of the district. Manikchak, English Bazar, Kaliachak-I, Kaliachak-II and Kaliachak-III blocks are under Diara tract.
The main rivers of the district are all of Himalayan or Sub-Himalayan origin and flow in a southerly and south-easterly direction. The principal rivers of the district are 1) The Ganga 2) The Mahananda 3) The Kalindri 4) The Tangan and 5) The Punarbhava.
Beside this river system, a fairly good portion of the district is occupied by 710 wetlands whose individual areas are greater than or equal to 2.25 hectares (Minimum mapable unit). Malda district has 9 big wetlands out of 23 big wetlands (covering more than 100 hectares each) of West Bengal. Tal region has 373 wetlands, Diara region has 78 and Barind region has 259 wetlands. Out of 9 big (more than 100 hectares) wetlands 3 wetlands namely Jatradanga beel, Jalkarbithan beel & East Ahora beel of Barind region are seasonal in nature. These three wetland's beds are converted into Boro cultivation area during December to May, i.e. when water is totally absent in these beels and during July to November these three wetlands are used for pisciculture and irrigation purpose also.
As a part of the biotic components of the ecosystem in Malda, flora plays their vital role in human survival and activities. Some portions of Barind area are covered by jungles, which consist chiefly of thorny scrub bush jungles mixed with Pipal, Bat, Simul and Pakur trees and Nepal Bamboos. Species of thorny bamboos are also seen in Pandua areas and ordinary Neem tree, Jack-fruit tree, Tamarind, Bamboo, Peepul tree and Mango tree are seen in plenty in embankment areas of Gour. The soil of the western and southern region of the district i.e. Tal and Diara regions are particularly suited to the growth of mulberry and mango, for the production of both Malda has become famous. Maize and litchi also grown in these two regions.
About 22 types of botanical species are identified all over the major wetlands of Malda. Those are: Bara Pana (Potamogeton Crispus), Bhringaraj (Wedelia Chinensis), Gima (Polycarpon Prostratum), Hatisur (Heliotropium), Hingcha (Enydra Fluctuans), Halencha (Alternanthera Philoxeroides), Jangli chal (Hygroryza Aristata), Kalmi (Ipomoea Aquatica), Kulekhara (Hygrophila), Kachu (Colocasia Esculenta), Kuchuri Pana (Eichhornia Crassipes), Kureli (Hydrilla Verticillata), Kutipana (Azollaceae), Makhna (Euryale Ferox), Nag Phul (Ovalifolium Forsk), Padma (Nelumbo Nucifera), Saluk (Nymphaea Nouchali), Sola (Aeschynomene Aspera), Susni Sak (Marsilea Minuta), Thankuni (Centella Asiatica), Water Fern (Salvinia Cucullata) and Pani Phal (Trapa Bispinosa). Common hydrophytes like kulekhara, Thankuni, Hingcha, Kuchuri pana, Susni sak, Kalmi sak, Bara pana, Gima, Saluk etc. are found all through the wetlands. From human point of view, these common hydrophytes play vital role to support the local people needs e.g. economically (salable product) as well as food value purpose (individual consumptive). Hydrophytes like kulakhara, thankuni, hingcha, gima, kalmi sak are also used for medicinal purpose by the villagers. On the other hand, a hydrophyte 'Makhna' is cultivated only in Tal region wetlands of the district. This particular very high protein and economical plant is very much effective to the local people for their economic needs. 'Sola', 'Pani-phal', are mainly grown in Chakla beel of Tal region of the district.
Fishes found commonly in Malda District include: Aar (Mystus seenghala), Chanda (Ambassis nama), Chela (Chela bacaila), Ranga chanda (Ambassis ranga), Boal (Wallagonia attu), Koi (Anabas testudineus), Danrika (Esomus danrica), Veda (Badis badis), Darkina (Rasbora daniconius), Chuna khalisa (Trichogaster chuna), Punti (Burbus phutunio), Khalisa (Trichogaster fasciata), Swarna puti (Burbus sarana), Chang (Ophicephalus gachua), Tit punti (Barbus ticto), Gajar (Ophicephalus marulius), Mrigal (Cirrhina mrigala), Lata (Ophicephalus punctatus), Rui(Labeo rohita), Catla(Catla catla), Magur (Clarias batrachus), Dud chang (Ophicephalus stewartii), Singhi (Heteropneustes fossilis), Shole (Ophicephalus striatus), Tangra (Mystus cavasius), Kunche (Amphipnous cuchia) etc.
Birds found in wetlands and agricultural lands of Malda district are: Lesser Whistling duck (Dendrocygna javanica), Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), Stork-billed kingfisher (Halcyon capensis), Pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), Red-wattled lapwing (Vanellus indicus), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Great egret (Casmerodius albus), Intermediate egret (Mesophoyx intermedia), Indian pond heron (Ardeola grayii) etc.
Some birds seen in marshy wetlands and rivers of Malda district during winter and they are migratory in nature, those include: Greylag Goose (Anser anser), Cotton pygmy goose (Nettapus coromandelianus), Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), Little stint (Calidris minuta), Little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius), Brown headed gull (Larus brunnicephalus), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) etc.