Feb 21, 2013

croak croak... Croakers

The Croakers

A couple of series on the best parts of our Goa excursion!

‘Frogs’ are mostly seen only during the monsoon season and we were at the right time on the fringes of Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa and we got to see some real gems, many of them that I have never seen or rather not been in search of!

A place where you get to hear nothing but the croaking of the frogs and the buzzing sounds from the crickets. Each step of yours should be carefully placed, lest you stamp on a snake or a gecko passing underneath and making sure you don’t get in the way of the vipers waiting for the passing meals on the low lying branches or the scorpions waiting to sting their prey, or the nocturnal predators that roam the forests!
That’s a walk in the wild for you!

The Malabar Gliding Frog (Rhacophorus malabaricus)

It is an arboreal species of tropical moist evergreen forest, deciduous forest, secondary (disturbed) forest and coffee plantations. It is present in the lower canopy and understorey levels of the forest. It breeds in vegetation overhanging ponds, and the tadpoles develop in the pools. Conversion of forest habitat for use as intensively farmed agricultural land (coffee plantations) is a major threat.

Dobson’s Burrowing Frog (Sphaerotheca dobsonii)
It is a fossorial species of scrubland, forest (moist and dry deciduous), and forest edge habitat. It is generally only encountered during the wet season and is capable of burrowing. It breeds in temporary pools by larval development. The main threats to this species are the conversion of its habitat to agricultural land and road construction.

Indian Bull Frog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus)
Commonly seen everywhere particularly near large water bodies, streams and fields and mainly during monsoon. Loss of wetland habitats through infrastructure development, prolonged drought and water pollution by pesticides and other agrochemicals are now the main threats to the species.

Amboli Bush Frog (Pseudophilautus amboli)
A critically endangered and endemic species on the verge of extinction only found in the Western Ghats range on small shrubs. This species is known only from a few localities in the vicinity of the Amboli forest in Sawantwadi District, Maharashtra, in the northern Western Ghats of India. The major threat to the species is habitat loss and fragmentation due to urbanization and tourism development.

Wayanad Bush Frog (Pseudophilautus wynaadensis)
Another critically endangered and endemic to the Western Ghats range. It is nocturnal and arboreal, and associated with the under storey of tropical moist evergreen forest and shrubland. It is present in secondary forest and cultivated land (including tea and coffee plantations), provided that these are not managed too intensively. Breeding is believed to take place by direct development. The major threat is conversion of native forest to intensively cultivated areas (including tea, coffee and other non-timber plantations).

Small-handed Frog (Indirana semipalmata)

It is a terrestrial species associated with riparian vegetation and leaf-litter in wet evergreen, and semi-evergreen, tropical forests and swamps. It has been recorded in coffee plantations and disturbed forest. Conversion of land to commercial agricultural use (including coffee plantations) appears to be the main threat to this species. Harvesting of wood and timber for subsistence use, and the development of mining and tourism in the Western Ghats region are also threats.

Other posts from the excursion posts here.

Feb 3, 2013

Wild Goa - A trip report

A trip to Goa doesn't only mean beaches, wine and women!!!

"Few of the tourists know that one third of Goa is covered with rich forest and that, it is one of the greatest reservoirs of biodiversity in the world." Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary and Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary are the wild havens in Goa that supports a rich variety of flora and fauna.

I, along with Deepa, Girish, Parimala and Gopal, had been on a reptile and amphibian excursion through Junglescapes (an NGO) at Canopy’s ‘Nature’s Nest’ (http://canopygoa.com/) on the fringes of the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary in September 2012. The best part of the camp was the amount of knowledge the hosts had about the rich bio-diversity of Goa and the need to conserve and protect them. Ramesh Zarmekar, the partner in the property and Omkar, the ever-smiling naturalist were the perfect hosts we could crave for doling out information like a textbook and meeting our Guru-G (Karthik) on the last day was an added bonus.

We roamed across the Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, Castle Rock area, Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary and the Tambi Surla and we were stunned by the amount of life forms witnessed. Being rainy season, the place was infested by amphibians and reptiles and we could hear the croaking of frogs from everywhere around us. Bird activity was low owing to the rains but seeing such variety of other life forms more than compensated for that.

We saw a total of 6 individual Hump-nosed Pit Vipers, 2 Green-vine Snakes, 2 Beddome’s Keelback, 1 Saw-scaled Viper and 1 Travancore Wolf snake and missed seeing the Bronzeback Tree Snake by a whisker.

I saw so many varieties of frogs that easily outnumbered the total I would have seen till date and the joy was doubled when we got to see some endemics only found in the Western Ghats. The frogs that we came across included the -

Critically endangered Amboli Bush Frog (Pseudophilautus amboli)
Endangered Wayanad Bush Frog (Pseudophilautus wynaadensis)
Knob-handed Shrub Frog (Raorchestes tuberohumerus)

Small-handed Frog (Indirana semipalmata)
Reddish Burrowing Frog (Fejervarya rufescens)

Wrinkled Fejervarya (Fejervarya caperata)
Dobson’s Burrowing Frog (Sphaerotheca dobsonii)

Malabar Gliding Frog (Rhacophorus malabaricus)
Common Indian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus)
Common Skittering Frog (Euphlyctis cyanophylctis)

…and many more that are endemic to the pristine Western Ghats belt that sends a telling message to preserve the now remaining Western Ghats.

Added to the list we saw about 30 different butterfly species gliding and floating all over the place and those lovely but slender dragon and the damsel flies and hordes of spiders, crabs, bugs, beetles and insects and notable nocturnal being the Deccan banded Gecko and the Deccan Ground Gecko. In spite of the rains battering all day long for the 3 days we stayed, we were able to see about 50 species of birds in the very short time we had for birding that implies the place is a bio-diversity haven.

We were also witness to some fantastic wildlife moments - the beetle cutting up the earthworm into two pieces; the vine snake devouring the frog and lifting it up the tree; the perfectly camouflaged hump-nosed pit viper; the 'saw'ing sound of the saw-scaled viper still echoes in my ears; the giant monitor lizards in the middle of the highway; the numerous butterflies; the dozen hanging parrots on a single tree; the assassin bug chasing the cockroach and not to forget the wonderful moments we spent laughing out tummies out.

It was not only about the moving forms but the landscapes, the sanctuary engulfed in a carpet of green, the valley view with the Anjunim dam, view of the Ladke waterfalls in the rains and the variety of flora that left us stunned, the monitor lizards on the road, the winding ghats, the hordes of leeches, vipers everywhere that made this excursion a memorable and a fantastic one and we would be probably the very few people who came back from Goa without seeing a beach or having wine!

Related posts - 
Some Frames from Goa
Snakes from Goa

more to come...