Sacred Grove of Devi Satkanya at Lebong in Darjeeling Himalaya (India): A Traditional Way of Biodiversity Conservation Since Time Immemorial
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Devi Satkanya Sacred Grove is located behind a mistic town called Lebong as a pristine forest patch, about 8 km from Darjeeling Town. Geographically, the grove is located between 27°03.436’N Lat. and 88°16.592’E Long. at an altitude of about 1823 m. Total area of the grove is approx. 5770 square metre (sq.m.). In Darjeeling, most of the Sacred Groves have ‘deity’---rocky idols of Devi Durga and Lord Shiva, often reside inside small rocky caves called ‘cave temple’. Devi Satkanya Sacred Grove possesses a great heritage of diverse gene pool of many forest species having socio-religious attachment and possessing medicinal values viz., Garcinia cowa DC., Prunus cerasoides D.Don, Michelia cathcartii Hook.f. & Thomson (Chanp), Ficus nemoralis Wall. etc. Devi Satkanya SG is ecologically and genetically very important. It harbours a good number of Endangered ethnomedicinal plants like Swertia chirayita (Roxb. ex Fleming) H. Karst. and animals like Himalayan Salamander (Tylototriton verrucosus Anderson). As a result of extensive field visits in different seasons to Devi Satkanya SG from June 2014 to October 2016, new and first hand data on threatened plants and animals, ethnomedicinal plants and traditional and magical way of biodiversity conservation by the local Nepalese since time immemorial were documented.
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