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| Last Updated:: 17/01/2020

Kerala Symbols



State bird -Great Indian hornbill (Buceros bicornis)


The state bird of Kerala ,The Great Hornbill, Buceros bicornis  also known as Greater Indian Hornbill, is the largest member of the hornbill family. It is found in the evergreen forest of Kerala alsothey are distributed in a range from western India , through Indochina , south of Malaya and through Sumatra . These hornbills are found on sea level up to 5000 feet (1524m) above ground. Great Hornbills can grow to a length of 4.5 feet (1.4m). The body is covered with black feathers and the wing tips have a ban of white feathers. The tail, sometimes reaching up to 3 feet (7.6cm), is white with bans of black feathers across. The neck of this bird is surrounded with circle of fur. The bill is yellow and curved downward. One distinct mark of the hornbills is their bright yellow and black casque on top of its massive bill, a helmet like head and is solid ivory. The casque is hollow with little functions although they are believed to be the result of sexual selection. Male hornbills have been known to indulge in aerial casque butting flights. Females are smaller than males and have blue instead of red eyes. They usually have short legs, but have broad feet.


          Indian hornbills are mainly fruit eaters but also actively hunt and eat insects, lizards, snakes and even nestling birds. Great Indian Hornbills like to eat various types of berries. Hornbills swallow most of their food whole instead of breaking it down first. After they consume the food, they'll regurgitate what they cannot digest such as bones, and pits. 


          Female hornbills build nests in hollows of large tree trunks and the opening is sealed with feces, wood bark, and dirt. She remains imprisoned in her nest until the chicks are semi-developed relying on the male to bring her food. During this period the female undergoes a complete moult. The clutch consists of one or two eggs she incubates for 38-40 days. 


          Indian hornbills are rare and threatened with extinction. These birds are hunted in India for food and medicine. In Kerala the main threat is the destruction of their habitat. Due to ongoing habitat lost and hunting in some areas, the Great Hornbill is evaluated as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix I of CITES.



State Flower-Golden shower or Kanikkonna (Cassia fistula )


The state flower is The Golden Shower Tree or Indian laburnum Cassia locally known as Kanikkonna in the family Fabaceae, native to southern Asia, from southern Pakistan east through India to Myanmar and south to Sri Lanka. The flowers are of ritual importance in the Vishu festival. The medium-sized tree blooms in a particular season during the Medam month of Malayalam calendar (April-May), when Keralites celebrate Vishu.It is a medium-sized tree growing to 10-20 m tall with fast growth. The leaves are deciduous or semi-evergreen. It is widely grown as an ornamental pla nt in tropical and subtropical areas. It blooms in the month of May; flowering is profuse, with trees being covered with yellow flora, with almost no leaf being seen. The golden shower tree is the national flower of Thailand and is called Dok Khuen; its yellow leaves symbolize Thai royalty.



State tree- The Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera)


The state tree of Kerala is the coconut palm , native to tropical eastern regions, today it is grown both over the Asian continent (India, Ceylon, Indonesia) and in Central and South America (Mexico, Brazil), in Africa. The people of the state of consider Kerala to be the " Land of Coconuts "; ‘nalikerathinte naadu' in the native language. The Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the Family Arecaceae (palm family). It is the only species in the genus Cocos, and is a large palm, growing to 30 m tall, with pinnate leaves 4-6 m long, pinnae 60-90 cm long; old leaves break away cleanly leaving the trunk smooth. The term coconut refers to the fruit of the coconut palm.


         Its fruit is 1-2 kg in weight, is a drupe with a thin, smooth, grey-brownish epicarp, a fibrous, 4-8 cm thick, mesocarp and a woody endocarp; as it is rather light, it can be carried long distances by water while keeping its germinability for a long time. 


          Inside it contains one seed, rich in reserve substances located in the endosperm which is partly liquid (coconut milk), partly solid (flesh). 


          The coconut palm is perhaps the widest-grown palm in the world. Coconuts feature as one of the main sources of income for many of the people, in that a large number of different products are utilized. Nearly all parts of the coconut palm are useful, and the palms have a comparatively high yield (up to 75 fruits per year); it therefore has significant economic value. The name for the coconut palm in Sanskrit is kalpa vriksha, which translates as "the tree which provides all the necessities of life".



State animal - Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus)


The state animal of Kerala is Asian Elephant (also known as the Indian Elephant) is a huge land animal that lives in India , Malaysia , Sumatra , and Sri Lanka . This elephant is used extensively for labor; very few are left in the wild. Their life span is up to 70 years. There are three living species: the African Bush Elephant, the African Forest Elephant (until recently known collectively as the African Elephant), and the Asian Elephant (also known as the Indian Elephant). Elephants are mammals, and the largest land animals alive today. The elephant's gestation period is 22 months, the longest of any land animal. The African and Asian elephants are separate species. African elephants, at up to 4 m (13 ft 1 in)tall and weighing 7500 kg (8.27 short tons), are usually larger than the Asian species and they have bigger ears. Both male and female African elephants have long tusks, while their Asian counterparts have shorter ones, with those of females vanishingly small. African elephants have a dipped back, smooth forehead and two "fingers" at the tip of their trunks, whereas the Asian have an arched back, two humps on the forehead and only one "finger" at the tip of their trunks. The Asian elephants' decline has possibly been more gradual with the causes primarily being poaching and habitat destruction by human encroachment.


          There are several subspecies of Elephas maximus and some have been identified only using molecular markers. The first subspecies is the Sri Lankan Elephant (Elephas maximus maximus). Found only on the island of Sri Lanka , it is the largest of the Asians. Another subspecies, the Indian Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) makes up the bulk of the Asian elephant population. Numbering approximately 36,000, these elephants are lighter grey in colour, with depigmentation only on the ears and trunk. The smallest of all the elephants is the Sumatran Elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus). Population estimates for this group range from 2,100 to 3,000 individuals. It is very light grey and has less depigmentation than the other Asians, with pink spots only on the ears. In 2003 a further subspecies was identified on Borneo . Named the Borneo pygmy elephant, it is smaller and tamer than other Asian elephants. It also has relatively larger ears, longer tail and straighter tusks. 


        Elephants are herbivores, spending 16 hours a day collecting plant food. Their diet is at least 50% grasses, supplemented with leaves, bamboo, twigs, bark, roots, and small amounts of fruits, seeds and flowers. Because elephants only digest 40% of what they eat, they have to make up for their digestive system's lack of efficiency in volume. An adult elephant can consume 140-270 kg (300–600 lb) of food a day. 60% of that food leaves the elephant's body undigested.



State fish - Pearlspot (Etroplus suratensis)


The state fish is the Pearl spot, locally known as Karimeen in the family Cichlidae. It's scientific name is Etroplus suratensis. It is an indigenous fish extensively found along the east and south-west coasts of Peninsular India. It dwells fresh and brackish water habitats, found throughout Kerala especially in Backwaters around Alleppey, and in western flowing rivers in Karnataka, and backwaters of Andhra Pradesh. It attains an average length of 22 cm and weighing about 250 g. Its body is short, oval in shape and strongly compressed. Eyes large, mouth small. Jaws equal. Caudal fin slightly emarginate. Scales ctenoid. Light green coloured with eight transverse bands; the first over the occiput, the last across the base of the caudal, the other six intermediate. Most of the scales above lateral line have a central white pearly spot; some irregular black spots over the abdomen. Dorsal, ventral, anal and caudal of a dark leaden colour; the pectoral yellowish, with a jet - black base. Matchless taste of the flesh of Pearl spot makes it a favorite item among the food lovers all over the world. This fish is fairly expensive and is available throughout the year. Kerala produces 2000 tonnes of Karimeen annually, but it is insufficient to meet the growing demands for Kerala Karimeen in our country. Karimeen delicacies also tops the list of Kerala cuisines. The hot and spicy ''Karimeen Pollichathu'' (fried-pearl spot) is the most favourite among both domestic and foreign tourists. Pearl spot is prone to many diseases mainly caused by wide fluctuations in environmental parameters. The most common disease causing agents are bacteria including Pseudomonas, Alcaligenes, Flavobacteria, Moraxella, Vibrio and gram-positive Micrococci and Bacillus spp. To create awareness about its commercial potential and promote its production, the state decided to observe 2010-11 as 'The Year of Karimeen'.