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Reptile Rap Newsletter of the South Asian Reptile Network ISSN 2230-7079

No.12 | May 2011 Contents First record of Yellow-spotted Wolf Snake Lycodon flavomaculatus (Wall, 1907) from Chirner Forest, Uran, Maharashtra -- Nitin S. Walmiki, Siddhesh Karangutkar, Aniket Jadhav, Siddharth Parab & N.S. Achyuthan, Pp. 2–3 Sighting of Slender Coral Snake Calliophis melanurus in Seshachalam Hills, Eastern Ghats, India: a new record -- M. Bubesh Guptha & M. Rajasekhar, Pp. 4–6 Chromogenicity in males during mating in Indian wall lizards Hemidactylus flaviviridis (Ruppell) -- Ranjeeta Chatterjee, Vaishali Bansod & K.K. Sharma, Pp. 6–8 Is it possible to create a safe habitat for muggers of Vishwamitri River, Gujarat State, India? -- Raju Vyas, Pp. 9–11

Date of publication: 09 May 2011

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REPTILE RAP #12, May 2011

First record of Yellow-spotted Wolf Snake Lycodon flavomaculatus (Wall, 1907) from Chirner Forest, Uran, Maharashtra Nitin S. Walmiki 1, Siddhesh Karangutkar 2, Aniket Jadhav 2, Siddharth Parab 3 & N.S. Achyuthan 3 National Institute of Oceanography, Regional Centre, Lokhandawala Road, Andheri (West), Mumbai, Maharashtra 400053 India  3 CON (Care of Nature), Veshvi, Chirner, Uran, Maharashtra, India Email: 1 nitinwalmiki007@gmail.com (corresponding author) 1,2

A rare snake species, a Yellow-spotted Wolf Snake Lycodon flavomaculatus was reported from Chirner Forest, Uran, Maharashtra. On 07 August 2010 two specimens of the snake were collected from Chirner Forest in Uran Taluka, a historical place, known for its famous Jungle Satyagraha movement on 25 September 1930. Chirner, a protected forest situated (18050’48.40”N & 73003’36.14”E) around 70km from Mumbai suburbs, is a semievergreen forest with a variety of herpetofauna, but

this was the first time that a Yellow-spotted Wolf Snake was found in the area. One specimen was male, about 24.1cm long and weighed 12.4g. This species of wolf snake was identified by the scale count method (Table 1) and by external appearance (Image 1) as in Maharashtra, yellow spotted forms of the barred wolf snake Lycodon striatus are frequently mistaken for this species (Whitaker & Captain 2008). The specimen was then kept captive for two

Image 1. Yellow-spotted Wolf Snake Lycodon flavomaculatus 2

days for further observation. During this observation period it fed on Brook’s House Gecko Hemidactylus brookii; the snake was very calm, which is exactly opposite that of any other wolf snake species. The specimen was then released at the same spot in Chirner Forest. The other specimen was not in a good condition; it was found dead by the road side, so only the length was measured (22cm). Lycodon flavomaculatus is a threatened species (Molur & Walker 1998) it is slenderbodied, smooth scaled, with a flattened head slightly broader than the neck, a broad snout projects beyond lower jaw. Eye entirely black. Glossy black above with series of small, bright yellow spots along the vertebral line. Arising from the spots is a yellow or white band that widens and becomes indistinct


REPTILE RAP #12, May 2011 Table 1. Scale count of Lycodon flavomaculatus Scale

Count

Scale skin

17:17:15 rows, smooth

Ventral

175

Anal divided sub codal

58 paired

Preocular

1

Postocular

2

Temporal

2+3

Supralabial

9 (3rd to 5th touching eye)

Loreal

1 (touches internasal)

on the sides. Lip scales are white underneath (Whitaker & Captain 2008). This species is endemic to India and has been recorded from only a few places in and around the Western Ghats of Maharashtra namely, Nashik, Pune, Mulshi, Talegaon, Deolali, Dharwad, Sangli, Buldhana and Oudh (Whitaker & Captain 2008). D’Abreu (1928) also mentioned a record of this species from Buldhana, Maharashtra (old name Wall’s Wolf Snake), it is also recorded from Melghat region (Nande & Deshmukh 2007) and Vadodara, Gujarat State (Vyas 2000, 2008). According to IUCN status

of Indian reptiles it comes under VU (Vulnerable) species (Molur & Walker 1998). References D’ Abreu, E.A. (1928). Record of Nagpur Museum No. VI. A list of reptiles of central provinces. Govt. press, Nagpur, 1-13. Khaire N. (2008). A Guide to the Snakes of Maharashtra Goa and Karnataka. United Multicolour Printer Pvt. Ltd., Pune, 80-81pp. Molur, S. & S. Walker (eds.) (1998). Reptiles of India. Biodiversity Conservation Prioritisation Project (BCPP) India, Endangered Species Project Conservation Assessment and Management Plan (C.A.M.P.) workshops.

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Zoo Outreach Organisation & CBSG, India, Coimbatore, India, 175pp. Nande, R. & S. Deshmukh (2007). Snakes of Amravati District including Melghat, Maharashtra, with important recrd of Indian Egg Eater, Montane Triket and Indian Smooth Snake, Zoo’s Print Journal 22(12): 2920-2924. Vyas R. (2000). A review of reptile studies in Gujarat state, Zoo’s Print Journal 15(12): 386-390. Vyas, R. & K.B. Upadhaya (2008). On the Occurrence of Lycodon flavomaculatus Wall, 1907 in Gujarat State, India. SAURIA, Berlin 30(1): 55-58. Whitaker, R. & A. Captain (2008). Snakes of India - The Field Guide Snakes of India The Field Guide. Draco Books, Chennai, Xiv+481pp.

Acknowledgement The authors want to thank the local people from Chirner, Raju Mumbaikar, Raja Patil (Members of CON), and Vinayak Puranik for their valuable field work with us. The authors are grateful to Dr. Vaishali Somani & Mr. Anil Kubal for their constant support and motivation.


REPTILE RAP #12, May 2011

Sighting of Slender Coral Snake Calliophis melanurus in Seshachalam Hills, Eastern Ghats, India: a new record M. Bubesh Guptha 1 & M. Rajasekhar 2 1 Wildlife Institute of India, Post Box ≠.18, Chandrabani, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 248001, India 2 Department of Zoology, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh 517502, India Email: 1 bubesh.guptha@gmail.com (corresponding author)

The family Elapidae (Boie 1827) is represented by over 60 genera and 300 known species distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical regions. The snakes of this family are further divided into six subfamilies namely Bungarinae, Calliophinae, Elapinae, Hydrophiinae, Laticaudinae and Maticorinae (Mirza & Pal 2010). In the oriental region the elapids are represented by 13 genera and 36 species (Whitaker & Captain 2004). Oriental coral snakes are included in three genera namely Calliophis, Hemibungarus and Sinomicrurus (Slowinski et al. 2001). Calliophis melanurus Shaw, 1802 is more widespread than all the other species of the genus occurring in peninsular India and Sri Lanka (Daniel 2002); Whitaker & Captain (2004) state that it probably occurs in most of peninsular India (except the extreme northwest), with definite records from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal; there is a single record from Dhar, Madhya Pradesh (Vyas & Vyas 1981) and Nallamala, northern Andhra Pradesh

(Sharma 1971; Sanyal et al. 1993). With this background, we report sighting Calliophis melanurus in Andhra Pradesh on the 17 November 2009 during our field surveys from 18 September 2009 to 25 December 2009. We found the snake near the forest complex close to Kapilathreetham Temple, (13038’N & 79025’E) Chitoor District, Andhra Pradesh (Image 1). This reserved forest, forming part of the Eastern Ghats, consists of unique flora and fauna. The highly endangered flora like Cycas beddomei and highly priced endemic species like Pterocarpus santalinus grow luxuriantly. The entire sanctuary is an uninhabited

large chunk of dry deciduous Red Sanders bearing forest, forming catchments to Swarnamukhi and Penna rivers, both in Chittoor and Cuddapah districts. The area also consists of natural grassland. The specimen was identified based on descriptions available in the literature (Smith 1943; Schulz 1996; Daniel 2002; Whitaker & Captain 2004). Description The Slender Coral Snake is light brown and to some extent speckled. Its head and neck are black with two prominent yellow spots on the top of the head. A shabby black ring is seen at both the tail-base and tail-tip, each scale speckled with brown and the underside is coral red (Image 2). This can often be confused with Dumeril’s Black-headed Snake which has a pale yellow underside and a much longer gradually tapering tail. The underside of Calliophis melanurus is pinkish-red in colour (Image 3). Its head is blunt and has

Appd

20000000

20000000

40000000 Miles

Images 1. Area where Calliophis melanurus was sighted in Andhra Pradesh 4


REPTILE RAP #12, May 2011 the protection of habitat is an important aspect in the conservation of such species. Reference

Image 2. Slender Coral Snake Calliophis melanurus.

Also they are fine burrowers in sandy soil and can lay motionless with just their head noticeable. In excitement, they curl up their tails and wave them, exhibiting the startling underside colours, thus taking attention away from the head. Status: Rare. Species and listed as Lower Risk-Near Threatened (Molur & Walker 1998). With this addition the number of snake species known from Andhra Pradesh reaches 41 (Sanyal et al. 1993; Daniel 2002; Whitaker & Captain 2004; Rao et al. 2005; Srinivasulu & Das 2008). The record of Calliophis melanurus in Seshachalam Hills shows our incomplete understanding of the distribution of fauna. We recommend that further studies be carried out in the Eastern Ghats and its surrounding areas at the earliest possible opportunity to confirm the presence of Calliophis melanurus. Also Image 3. Caudal part of Calliophis everyone should realise that the same width as that of the neck. The scales are smooth and faintly glossy. Its small eyes are entirely black. The Slender Coral Snake is one of five Indian coral snakes, the other four being hill forest species, which can be seen in the Western Ghats and the Eastern Himalaya. Mostly they are seen in litters, burrows, and under sand in captivity areas Whitaker & Captain (2004); mainly under ground, under stones (Khaire 2006); and scrub forests (Sharma 1971; Sanyal et al. 1993). These are mainly nocturnal snakes, but on rare occasions they become active in the early morning hours of the cooler months.

melanurus.

5

Daniel, J.C. (2002). The Book of Indian Reptiles and Amphibians. Bombay Natural History Society & Oxford University Press. Mumbai, viii+238pp. Mirza, Z. & S. Pal (2010). Notes on the effect of a bite from Calliophis melanurus Shaw, 1802 (Serpents: Elapidae Calliophinae). Reptile Rap Newsletter of the South Asian Reptile Network 9(January): 7–8. Molur, S. & S. Walker (eds.) (1998). Reptiles of India. Biodiversity Conservation Prioritisation Project (BCPP) India, Endangered Species Project Conservation Assessment and Management Plan (C.A.M.P.) workshops. Zoo Outreach Organisation & CBSG, India, Coimbatore, India, 175pp. Khaire, N. (2006). Snake of Maharashtra Goa and Karnataka. The Field Guide, 52pp. Rao, K.T., H.V. Ghate, A.M. Sudhakar, S.M.M. Javed & I.S.R. Krishna (2005). Herpetofauna of Nallamalai Hills with eleven new records for the region including ten new records for Andhra Pradesh. Zoos’ Print Journal 20(1): 1737–1740. Sanyal, D.P., B. Dattagupta & N.C. Gayen (1993). Reptilia, pp. 1–63. In: Ghosh, A.K. (ed.). Fauna of Andhra Pradesh—Part 1. (Reptilia, Amphibia, Fishes). Zoological Survey of India, Calcutta. Schulz, K.D. (1996). A Monograph of The Colubrid Snakes of The Genus Elaphe Fitzinger. Koeltz Scientific Books, 439pp.


REPTILE RAP #12, May 2011 Sharma, R.C. (1971). The reptile fauna of the Nagarjunasagar Dam area (Andhra Pradesh, India). Records of the Zoological Survey of India 63(1–4):77–93. Slowinkski, J.B., J. Boundy & R. Lawson (2001). The phylogenetic relationships of Asian coral snakes (Elapidae: Calliophis and Maticora) based on morphological and molecular characters. Herpetologica 57(2): 233– 245. Smith, M.A. (1943). The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma, Including the Whole of the Indo-Chinese SubRegion. Reptilia and Amphibia 3 (Serpentes). Today and Tomorrow’s Printers & Publishers, New Delhi, Indian Reprint 1974, 583pp. Srinivasulu, C. & I. Das (2008). The herpetofauna of Nallamala Hills, Eastern Ghats, India: an annotated checklist, with remarks on nomenclature, taxonomy, habitat use, adaptive types and biogeography. Asiatic Herpetological Research 11: 110–131. Vyas, T.P. & M. Vyas (1981). A note on the Slender Coral Snake, Callophis melanurus. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 78: 611–612. Whitaker, R. & A. Captain (2004). Snakes of India The Field Guide. Draco Books, Chennai, xiv+481pp.

Acknowledgment I would like to thank P. Mallikaarjuna Rao, Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF), and G. Ramalingam, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Wildlife Management Circle, Tirupati Andhra Pradesh Forest Department.

Chromogenicity in males during mating in Indian wall lizards Hemidactylus flaviviridis (Ruppell) Ranjeeta Chatterjee 1, Vaishali Bansod 2 & K.K. Sharma 3 Department of Zoology, Prof. Ramkrishna More Arts, Commerce and Science College, Akurdi, Pune, Maharashtra, India 3 Department of Zoology, Jamshedpur Co-Operative College, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India Email: 1 ranjeeta0702@rediffmail.com (corresponding author) 1,2

In lizards, chemical, auditory and visual cues play key roles in courtship patterns (Frankenberg 1982; Cooper & Vitt 1987). The movementbased visual signals, like characteristic postures and changes in body colouration during mating are common in diurnal lizards (Carpenter & Ferguson 1977), while nocturnal lizards mostly depend on vocal or chemical signals for courtship (Shine & Mason 2001). The reptiles are well known for their ability to change body colouration in response to stimuli as well as for communication purposes during mating (Carpenter & Ferguson 1977). The Indian Wall Lizard Hemidactylus flaviviridis, a common lizard found in residences has a light brown colour, does not show sexual dichromatism and is reported to have a breeding season from March to June (Bhattacharjee 2008). Observations on courtship and the mating behavior of the H. flaviviridis were done during the present study. In the present paper, the development of a distinct colour patch on the dorsal side of the trunk of the male during mating is reported. 6

The lizards, unlike mammals, do not mate from the back, as it is not possible, for most lizards have hard, spiny scales on the back. Rather, the male lizard approaches the female from the side, biting slightly on the neck of the female, and tries to get the cloaca of the female in a position as close as possible. The male lizard has paired copulatory organs, called hemipenes. They are within the ventral portion of the tail, covered in sheaths. A vas deferens connects each testicle to one of the hemipenes. The lizard’s testicles are located inside the body. During mating, the hemipenis closer to the female becomes erected. The hemipenes of many species of lizard is adorned with thorns or ‘hooks’ of some kind, securing a hold during mating. The sexual organs are concealed within the cloaca in lizards (Simms 2006). Methods The present study was done on H. flaviviridis, which were observed during courtship and mating. The observation was done at Jamshedpur, Jharkhand State,


REPTILE RAP #12, May 2011 India, by one of the authors. The pair was strictly observed in a room of the observer’s residence for three days prior to mating, as they started showing prominent breeding behaviour like running after each other and vocal signals were also heard. No third lizard was allowed to enter the room during the study period. The mating was seen at 1550hr on 20 April 2008. The ambient temperature of the mating site was 32 ± 1°C, with 62 ± 2% humidity. The photographs were captured by using a Canon Power shot A-410 digital camera. Observation and Result During the present observation, the male was found to chase the female for 2-3 hours prior to mating, as a part of the courtship (it was recognized as a male later, after the pictures were analyzed). In response, the female showed aggressive behaviour and tried to drive away the male. Ultimately, the female became receptive and stopped fleeing and became motionless. The male was identified by the distinct colour patch developed dorsally. The mating could be divided into three phases; pre-coital phase, coital phase and post-coital phase. The precoital phase lasted for 15-20 minutes. During this phase, the male started shaking its body and the female stopped moving. After 5min, the male started moving gradually towards the female. In response, the female also

Image 1. Twisted posture of the mating pair

started shaking its tail first, and then the anterior half of body, i.e., the head, neck and anterior abdominal region. The male, on reaching the female, started biting the left side of the tail base and gradually moved towards the anterior end. When it reached the side of the head, it started biting the mandible of the female and repeatedly raised its right hind limb to get a hold of the female, near the tail base. Then suddenly it jumped from the left to the right side of the female and took a position in a twisted manner (Image 1). The coital phase started with insertion of hemipenis into the cloaca of the female. This phase lasted for 10-12 minutes. Both the lizards were found to be motionless during this phase. As the coital phase got over, suddenly, they untwisted with a noticeable jerk. At the post coital phase, the lizards became untwisted, but were still in close contact with the inserted hemipenis clearly 7

Image 2. The male and female lizards at post-coital phase, before complete separation, posture resembling shape of ‘Y’

visible to the spectator. At this stage they appeared in the shape of a “Y” and remained in this posture for 10-15 seconds (Image 2). After that, they separated completely and the male suddenly got aggravated and drove away the female. Major findings of the present observation are: - The most striking feature which has not yet been reported in the case of the Indian wall lizard is the chromogenicity or development of a colour patch which was seen during the present observation. This colour patch developed at the pre-coital phase in the male lizard, and was very distinct during the coital as well as the post-coital phases (Image 3). The patch gradually disappeared after 2-3 hours of mating. The faded patch was observed even 2 hours after mating (Image 4). - The patch was purplish brown in colour and developed on the dorsal side of the trunk region extending from the


REPTILE RAP #12, May 2011

Image 3. The post-coital male lizard with distinct colour patch over body.

head to the posterior region of the trunk. - The male was found to visit the site twice after the completion of mating within the next 5 hours, while the female was observed trying to escape from the male as well as from the site after mating. - The marks of the male’s bites were distinct on the neck and left side of the trunk of the female (Image 5), at some places, the skin was found eroded too. Discussion and summary The change in colour during courtship and mating in case of reptiles, especially lizards is common. The courtship behaviour has been studied in Calotes versicolor in detail (Shanbhag 2003; Pandav et al. 2007). The chromogenicity or development of a colour patch in the male lizard is found to be very striking and was not reported earlier. The peculiar mating behaviour of the wall lizard like the shaking of the body in the male and female both, as well as, the biting behaviour of the male during pre-coital stage is also very uncommon. The male

Image 4. Male lizard after 2 hours of separation showing fading patches.

Image 5. Female lizard after separation showing eroded skin from the male’s bites.

was found to visit the site later, while the female was turcicus. Copeia 770–775. not seen to come back to the Pandav, B.N., B.A. Shanbhag site once being driven away & K.S. Srinivas (2007). by the male. The male was Ethogram of courtship and easily identified and observed mating behaviour of garden afterwards with a faded colour lizard, Calotes versicolor. patch. The mating behaviour Current Science 93(8): 1164– 1167. of H. flaviviridis has not been Shanbhag, B.A. (2003). fully reported including its Reproductive strategies in ethogram. This could be done the lizard, Calotes versicolor. after more detailed studies. Current Science 84: 646– The chromogenicity in the 652. male lizard could be studied Shine, R. & R.T. Mason (2001). Courting male garter snakes at biochemical as well as Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis endocrinological levels too.

use multiple cues to identify potential mates. Behav. Ecol. References Sociobiol. 49: 465–473. Simms, Alex (2006). Lizard Bhattacharjee, R. (2008). Breeding - Courting/Mating. Mating behavior of Indian wall EzineArticles.com. lizard Hemidactylus flaviviridis (Rupell), EzineArticles.com. Acknowledgement Carpenter, C.C. & G.W. The authors take the Ferguson (1977). Variation opportunity to express their and evolution of stereotyped gratitude to the Principal of behaviour in reptiles, pp. Prof. Ramkrishna More Arts, 335–457. In: Gans, C. & D.W. Commerce and Science College, Tinkle (eds.). Biology of the Akurdi, for providing the facilities. Reptilia, Ecology and Behavior. They are also grateful to Prof. Academic Press, London. K.K. Sharma of Department Cooper, Jr. W.E. & L.J. Vitt of Zoology of Jamshedpur Co(1987). Ethological isolation, Operative College, Jamshedpur sexual behaviour and for his able guidance. They would pheromones in the fasciatus also like to thank Dr. N.S. Sen, species group of the lizard Reader in Department of Zoology, genus Eumeces. Ethology 75: Ranchi University, Ranchi for his 328–336. motivation and support. Frankenberg, E. (1982). Vocal behaviour of the Mediterranean House Gecko, Hemidactylus 8


REPTILE RAP #12, May 2011

Is it possible to create a safe habitat for muggers of Vishwamitri River, Gujarat State, India? Raju Vyas 505, Krishnadeep Tower, Mission Road, Fatehgunj, Vadodara 2, Gujarat – India Email: razoovyas@hotmail.com

The river Vishwamitri which flows from east to west between two large rivers, Narmada and Mahi, is one of the non-perennial rivers in Gujarat State. There is a small population of Mugger or Marsh Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) flourishing in the river (Image 1). This species is one of the common crocodilian species in comparison to the other two crocodiles: Estuarine or Salt Water Crocodile (C. porosus) and Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus). The muggers of Vishwamitri are one of the extraordinary

examples of coexistence of man and animal surviving in pure harmony without harming each other. But since the last few decades this harmony has been disturbed. A total of 19 fatal attacks on human beings have been accounted for by this mugger species. The account of attacks by both, humans and muggers is noticed in some sort of balance. Doubtlessly there are some definite and valid reasons behind all the attacks by muggers on humans but on the other hand, the numbers of muggers killed brutally by

the locals also signifies the apathetic behaviour of the humans. This species is a threatened reptile in India and legally protected under Schedule I in the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act. In the late sixties, the species was depleted from its entire distribution range due to illegal hunting, fishing and habitat loss which brought muggers to the edge of extinction. But now, the mugger population is flourishing well due to the legal protection and the success of ex situ programmes, especially due to the grow and release practices. The Mugger is the most adapting species found in various types of habitats ranging from rivers to large lakes, to small puddles and village tanks and also, in road side ditches of many Indian states, including Gujarat.

Image 1. The Mugger (C. palustris) basking on river banks of Vishwamitri in the middle of Vadodara City, Gujarat State, India. 9


REPTILE RAP #12, May 2011 Table 1. Proposed most possible potential location sites for development of ‘Mugger Refuge’ within Vadodara City, Vadodara, Gujarat, India

1

Location: Geo-coordinates

2

Area and closed location City

3

Status of lands

Site No 1

Site No 2

Site No 3

Site No 4

Site No 5

22020’4.7”N 73012’7.0”E

22018’12.7”N 73011’12.1”E

22017’43.8”N 73010’56.8”E

22017’22.5”N 73010’34.1”E

22014’4.1”N 73010’11.4”E

Sama

Nr. Bhimnath & Fast trek court

B/h Palace area

B/h Tractor Co. & near Munjmhuda Bridge.

Nr. Vadsar Bridge

Not known

Not known

Not known

Not known

Not known

Water body. Nesting and Burrows and two large animals sighted

Water body. Hatchlings noted in the area

Water body. Nesting, burrows and two juveniles and a subadult animals observed

Water body. A sub-adult recorded

Water body. A number of indirect signs noticed, may be used by a number of muggers

4

Present scenarios of the location (all the location sites are best habitat for turtles)

5

Land should be covered for refuge (Approx.)

1.5km

1.0 km

1.0km

1.0km

1.0km

6

Carrying capacity (roughly no.)

120

50

80

50

50

8

Priority ranked on the basis of requirements of habits and habitat of the species.

Second

Fourth

First

Third -B

Third-A

The mugger and crocodilian - like species evolved on the earth almost in the age of dinosaurs. Today dinosaurs are extinct from the earth but crocodilians still survive without any changes. Human beings evolved on the earth about 40,000 years ago, much after the crocodilians, so if we talk about the right to live on earth, then muggers undoubtedly have the first privilege and foremost choice. Here we would not want to discuss the rights and choices we are yet to make, but would question why such conflict occurs between man and animals. The Hindu Philosophy states that every life on earth is born of equal rights and ‘live and let live’ applies to everyone. This raises the question why we kill any one inhumanely without any reason. Living in harmony with

nature has somewhere been forgotten by us. We step into the crocodilian realm and than we pollute it, and finally we try to eliminate them and their habitat forever. We do not leave safe spaces for such wild animals; whether muggers or moths or tigers or even trees. We as human beings do not want the intrusion of any other life form in our environs or in our jurisdiction, up to our home or street or city or country or beyond. Our jurisdiction is dependant on our thoughts and beliefs and not on nature’s rule of life. But some locals or ‘Vadodara Nivasi’ have thought about these muggers in the river. They want crocodiles in the river and the river to be clean and free from pollution. A river in its true sense and not a large natural sewage flowing 10

through the city. Therefore an urban authority launched a multi disciplinary project on the Vishwamitri River, called the ‘Vishwamitri River ReSectioning & Rejuvenation Project’. In this project, the authority considers the conservation of the mugger crocodile and retaining man-animal harmony. They want to solve the problem by bringing better scientific solutions based on the philosophy of ‘live and let live’. The authority wishes to mitigate such conflict, keeping the man and mugger relationship intact. Therefore the authority has formed a team and had produced a detailed report with the help of a local NGO and forest staff, to find a few good habitats within the existent river stretches within the city limits. A total of five river-side pockets were


REPTILE RAP #12, May 2011

Image 2. The aerial map of Vadodara City and location sites for proposed for “Refuge for muggers” in the river side, the pockets were selected after a scientific survey (Courtesy by www.googlearth.com)

selected, after a scientific survey (Table 1, Image 2). A study was then carried out on the basis of an assessment of the mugger’s habitat and the present mugger population. Other freshwater flora and fauna were also considered for such selection. The report suggested development of a safer habitat on the river stretch for mugger crocodiles where all notorious and large sized (over 3m) muggers could be kept. This safe habitat would be a part of the river and a large landscape, where the large animals could freely move without any conflict

with humans and devoid of any interference by man. There are various benefits for creating a safe refuge or city sanctuary for mugger crocodiles within the city area. This refuge for muggers or city sanctuary would be beneficial for both muggers and human beings. (i) Free ranging large sized muggers would not create any danger to human life; (ii) Diminution of mugger attacks and mitigation of conflicts between man and the species; (iii) A better solution to the present interim solution of ‘mugger rescue’ activities from human settlement areas;

11

(iv) The refuge can provide an alternative opportunity, other than the zoo, for tourist attraction and animal enthusiasts; (v) It would be the best visiting site for science students of schools and universities; (vi) It would function as an ideal field laboratory and a research center for studying aquatic biology; (vii) It would be a good example of ‘conservation of urban wildlife’; (viii) This kind of refuge would be a safer haven for other wildlife also, such as aquatic turtles, birds and amphibians, too. A place where all the necessary requirements of the species could be fulfilled ensuring the wellbeing of its biology and ecology. Presently a detailed proposal has been submitted to the Principal Conservator of Forests & Wildlife Warden, State Forest Department of Gujarat for approval and further consideration before being forwarded to the Ministry of Environment and Forests for finalization. So at present, the authority and the locals ‘Vadodara Nivasi’ eagerly awaiting this permission to develop a refuge for the mugger crocodiles of the Vishwamitri River.


REPTILE RAP #12, May 2011

Participants of the Western Ghats Reptile Conservation Assessment and Management Plan Workshop held in Coimbatore on 28 February to 4 March 2011. Â The assessments are being currently reviewed and the final assessments will be published later this year.

REPTILE RAP OPEN ACCESS | FREE DOWNLOAD

Date of publication: 09 May 2011

ISSN: 2230-7079 (online) Editor: Sanjay Molur Editorial Advisor: Sally Walker

No. 12 | May 2011

SARN Co-chairs: Sanjay Molur & S. Bhupathy REPTILE RAP is the Newsletter of the South Asian Reptile Network (SARN). REPTILE RAP is published by Zoo Outreach Organisation and Conservation Breeding Specialist Group South Asia as a service to the South Asian reptile conservation community as well as conservation actioners and enthusiasts at large. Reptile Rap is registered under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, which allows unrestricted use of articles in any medium for non-profit purposes, reproduction and distribution by providing adequate credit to the authors and the source of publication. OPEN ACCESS | FREE DOWNLOAD

REPTILE RAP is available online at www.zoosprint.org

South Asian Reptile Network c/o Zoo Outreach Organisation, 9-A, Lal Bahadur Colony, PB 1683, Peelamedu, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 641004, India Ph: +91 422 2561743, 2561087; Fax: +91 422 2563269 Email: herpinvert@gmail.com REPTILE RAP is available online at www.zoosprint.org/Newsletters/ReptileRap.htm 12

Reptile_Rap_12_May_2011  

Newsletter on reptiles of South Asia for the month of May 2011. This issue contains four articles.

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