Ants take centre stage at canopy conference

A particular species work as slave for others

Globally renowned ant specialist, Mark Moffett of Smithsonian Institute, nicknamed as `Dr Bugs’ or `Indiana Jones of Entomology’ delivered a talk on the topic, `Adventures among ants: A Global Safari with a cast of trillions’ during the event organised by Atree at the J N Tata Auditorium of Indian Institute of Science.

Having observed ants for 25 years, the entomologist said that he was initially perplexed as to why ants decorated their “nests” with inanimate objects or other dead ants during nights. This was done by the community so that the morning dew settles on them and can be harvested by the ants later.

“Each member in the ant community has a specific role to play. Some are responsible for harvesting, some are in-charge of security and so on,” he said. Another amazing aspect is that the system of slavery is prevalent in the ant community. “Ants of a particular species are made to work as slaves for other ants,” the specialist said.  

Earlier, an open house discussion was organised for eco tourism entrepreneurs. Former Programme Manager of Ford Foundation, Ganesan Bala Chander, chaired the session. The returns from Canopy Tourism globally runs to two trillion US dollars. It was not a viable option in India as it has few rainforest regions, said a few speakers.

“Eco tourism called for responsible tourism,” said a participant.

"The canopy arrangement set up at Thenmala in Kerala ended up affecting the roosting habit of birds there,” said another speaker.

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