Konda Reddi tribe’s indigenous knowledge of Indian laurel tree proves resourceful

News Excerpt: 

Recently the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department posted a video in which Authorities from the department made an incision on an Indian laurel tree (Terminalia tomentosa) discovered within Papikonda National Park in the Rampa Agency region of Alluri Sitharama Raju district, and confirmed that the tree stores water in summer.

More About the News:

According to the forest officials this Valuable insinght was provided by the Konda Reddi tribe, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group residing in the Papikonda hill range within the Godavari region.

About Konda Reddi Tribe:

  • HABITAT: Konda Reddis live along the banks of the Godavari River, In the hilly and forested areas of the East and West Godavari and Khammam districts of Andhra Pradesh.
  • LANGUAGE: Their mother tongue is Telugu in its purest and chaste form and a unique accent.
  • SUB - DIVISIONS: The Konda Reddy tribe regulates marriage relations by dividing itself into exogamous septs. 
    • Their surnames are prefixed to their individual names, just like those of other Telugu-speaking people. 
  • FAMILY AND MARRIAGE: The Konda Reddi family is patriarchal and patrilocal
    • They worship Muthyalamma (Village deity), Bhumi Devi (Earth Goddess), Gangamma Devi (River Goddess) etc.They celebrate festivals like Mamidi Kotha, Bhudevi Panduga, Gangamma Panduga and Vana Devudu Panduga.
  • MUSIC AND DANCE: A few of the male folk hold large drums, and one of them has a headdress made of bison horns
    • Men and women from Konda Reddy's group dance in unison to the drumbeat.
    • The "Kula Panchayat" is the name of the social control institution used by Konda Reddies. 
    • When Pedda Kapu is not present in the hamlet, his younger brother or closest male cousin, known as Pinna Pedda, serves as his backup and aid. 
    • The village panchayat handles crimes such as incest, adultery, divorce, and sleeping with members of neighboring communities.
    • They are mostly nomadic farmers who rely heavily on the forest's flora and fauna for their subsistence. 
    • To augment their little income, they gather and sell non-timber forest goods such as tamarind, adda leaves, myrobolan, broomsticks, etc. 
    • Their main crop, jowar, is mostly grown by them. 

Indian Laurel tree:

  • The Indian Laurel tree also known as Indian Silver Oak, scientifically known as Ficus microcarpa, is a tropical or subtropical tree found primarily in several parts of Asia, Western Pacific Islands and Australia.
  • As an ornamental tree, it provides a dense canopy and has a smooth light-gray bark, and shiny green lanceolate leaves
  • Its thick foliage creates excellent habitat for various bird species, and its small round figs serve as food for birds.
  • Indian Laurels are also known as ‘strangling figs’ because they are often seen growing on other trees and seriously threaten their host’s survival
  • The Laurel surrounds the host tree with its own roots and may grow large enough to pull down the host tree with its weight. 
  • Indian Laurels have a wide spreading leaf canopy, 
    • so they can also kill their host by growing over the top of it and shading it from the sun. 


About Papikonda National Park:

  • It is situated in the West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, with an area of 1012.858 sq. km.
    • Submergence area of Indira sagar Project (Polavaram Project).
  • It has a tropical climate with a slopy terrain (30% to 50%), having lateritic, alluvial, loamy, and black soil.
  • It receives 934 - 1375 mm of rainfall, with temperature ranges from 17 - 37 degrees Celsius and, at certain times, a maximum of 48 degrees Celsius.
  • The forest types found in the National Park area are -
Dry Mixed Teak ForestsSouthern dry mixed deciduous forestsSouthern moist mixed deciduous forests
  • The area plays a key role in high precipitation and the consequent origin of various small streams and rivulets which drain and enrich the perennial River Godavari.
  • The park exists in the Eastern Ghats which is known for rich floristic diversity with more than 2531 species.
  • The park has species like the Tiger, Hyena and vulnerable bovidae the Indian gaur, sambar, barking deer, red jungle fowl, Indian python, monitor lizard, Indian Golden gecko etc.
Its keystone species is Indian Gaur.
  • A unique dwarf breed of goat known locally as the “kanchu mekha” originates in this region.
  • The geological formation consists of Granite, Graphite, Gneisses, and associated rocks, Ferruginous quartzites, banded magnetite and quartz.
    • Most are metamorphic rocks.