Herpetofauna survey records presence of 60 species of

Surveys conducted simultaneously in six protected areas of Munnar wildlife division

Surveys conducted simultaneously in six protected areas of Munnar wildlife division

A herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) survey conducted simultaneously in six protected areas of the Munnar wildlife division has recorded the presence of 60 species of amphibians and 74 reptiles.

The surveys were conducted simultaneously at the national parks of Eravikulam, Mathikettan Shola, Anamundi Shola and Pampadum Shola and the wildlife sanctuaries of Chinnar and Kurinjimala recently. Though individual surveys are conducted in each protected area, it was for the first time a herpetofaunal survey covering all of the protected areas were carried out, says the wildlife researchers involved in the programme.

The survey was led by S.V. Vinod, Wildlife Warden of the Munnar wildlife division; P.S. Easa, former director of the Kerala Forest Research Institute; and researchers Sandeep Das and K.P. Rajkumar.

Different habitats

The surveys covered the different habitats of the Munnar division spread across 230 square kilometres.

The presence of one caecilian, two shieldtails and one ground gecko, which could be new to science, was recorded. Detailed investigations were required to confirm the identity of the species, says Mr. Das.

Among the recorded reptiles, 29 are endemic to the Western Ghats.

Forty-five amphibians endemic to the Western Ghats, including Kadalar Swamp Frog, Toad Skinned Leaping Frog, Munnar Torrent Frog, Cold Stream Torrent Frog, and around 20 threatened species, including critically endangered species such as Resplendent Shrub Frog, Sushil’s Bush Frog, Anamala Gliding Frog and Griet Bush Frog were recorded in the survey, says a communication.

Gunther’s Toad, recorded only thrice from Kerala, was reported from multiple camps in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary in good numbers.

The four-day survey, organised by the Kerala Forest and Wildlife department and Aranyakam Nature Foundation, witnessed around 100 forest officers and 95 volunteers from research institutes, including the Kerala Forest Research Institute, University of Calicut, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, College of Forestry and NGOs such as the Malabar Natural History Society participating in the exercise, the communication said.

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