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West Bengal: Drone spots 40 feet hole in Great Banyan canopy

An official releases a drone near the damaged roots of the Great Banyan

HOWRAH: A big hole, measuring over 40 feet in diameter, has appeared in the canopy of the 300-year-old Great Banyan Tree of the Botanic Garden due to Amphan. It was identified during a drone photography, which was done to assess the damage from the top.
While on ground survey has been done, aerial photography was commissioned to get a bird’s eye view of the damage, said the authorities.
The clearing in the canopy has been caused by the fall of 40 of the most ancient prop roots in the super cyclone. It is the canopy, which got the tree into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the widest in the world, with a diameter of 497 feet.
These prop roots were located in the north-west portion of the tree, its most ancient corner. Hence, each of these are thick and helped to bear the balance of the tree at that end. Efforts are on to transplant some of them, though scientists admitted there was very slim hope.
The wounds sustained from such breakage, have been assessed for potential fungal attacks. The affected areas will be treated with anti-fungal medicine, Blytox before monsoon sets in on June 10.
“The Banyan had suffered two major cyclones in 1864 and 1867 and it is then that the fungal infection had started. Later, its trunk got so infected that it started posing a threat to the entire tree. So the trunk was removed in 1925 in the hope that it would survive with the help of its prop roots. It did. So, we will not take any chances,” said Kanad Das, head of the Garden.
There are six botanists who are inspecting the fresh wounds of the tree thoroughly to decide where the anti-fungal should be spread.
“Thankfully, we have over 4000 prop roots. Many of these are tender and young and we are trying to strengthen them so they can help the tree survive in the event of such loss due to natural calamities,” said Basant Singh, a scientist at the garden.

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