Khyanjeet Gogoi: The Orchid Expert
For an Assamese identity, the Kopou Phool (Foxtail’s Orchid) is not non-descript; it takes over the horizons of the landscape with its presence, its aroma and its beauty finds itself thus adorned by dancers during Bihu, and as muse for many creative endeavours.
To one such Assamese, Khyanjeet Gogoi, the orchid family always seemed to fascinate. Over the years, he has recorded 395 species in Assam alone, discovered 35 new ones, named three himself and cultivated several more in his backyard in the small town of Rupai in Upper Assam’s Doomdooma.
Today, the 38-year-old has many monikers in Assam: the orchid expert, the orchid whisperer, the orchid man, and is often called by the government to identify rare species.
In India itself, there are 1,331 species of orchids, found in the Eastern Himalayas including the Northeast, Western Ghats, and the eastern part of Western Himalayas. But the Northeast remains a hotspot for orchids with about 72% of total orchids found in India located here.
But unfortunate as it may seem, there is a bigger peril at bay: as these flowers bloom, they are wilting and disappearing too. The reasons are many: deforestation, soil erosion, over grazing — but also, a thriving illegal trade, which is largely ignored.
But with the Orchid National Park undergoing severe institutional and management changes, that problem is going to be remedied by the Government soon. The state flower, is gaining enough traction from foreign enthusiasts and eco-tourists alike creating job opportunities for indigenous youth who know their way in and out of it.
Much like young aspirers like Khyanjeet, the youth of Assam is very respectful of the resources and nature’s gifts and want to work to preserve and celebrate them.
The BJP-Government has been extended major skill development schemes which will prove to be excellent sources to render enthusiasts and leaders like Khyanjeet to see changes that they want to see.