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Guwahati: The first ever transboundary survey of reptiles and amphibians carried out in the Indo-Bhutan Manas landscape has indicated the presence of a treasure trove of these speciesPreliminary results of the survey indicates the presence of at least 55 species of herpetofauna comprising 20 amphibian species and 35 reptile species for the transboundary landscape.
Some of the note-worthy species recorded are green tree frog, bubble nest frog, twin spotted tree frog, blue fan-throated lizard, water monitor lizard, king cobra and pope’s pit viper.
The Indo-Bhutan Manas landscape is one the world’s single largest protected area landscapes and is known for its diverse assemblage of flora and fauna. It lies at the juncture of two biodiversity namely, Himalayan and Indo-Burmese biodiversity hotspots.
The Indian part of this landscape, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary holds the status of UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.
Most of the herpetofaunal species recorded from Royal Manas are new country records for Bhutan.
Some of the species found are of utmost scientific interest and Manas National Park in India was found to hold an admixture of Indian, Indo-Malayan and Indo-Chinese elements.
Dr Abhijit Das of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) who was leading the survey team, said that the survey indicated a rich herpetofaunal diversity of the landscape much of which is still unknown.
The rich diversity of mammals and birds of the park is well documented.
However, scanty information exists on reptiles and amphibians of the park. The rapid
herpetofaunal survey was undertaken from June 16 to 24, 2014. The survey was part of a trans-boundary conservation initiative funded and led by the park authorities of Manas National Park, India and Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.
The technical team was led by herpetologist Dr Abhijit Das and comprised of researchers from Wildlife Institute of India, Arya Vidyapeeth College, Gauhati University and Aaranyak along with frontline staff of the various anti-poaching camps.
The survey was conducted in a diversity of habitat viz. semi evergreen forest, moist deciduous forest and Terai-Bhabar grasslands emphasising critical herpetological microhabitats.
In all of these habitat sites like forest streams, forest under-storey, rocky areas, and water logged areas in the interior of forest were sampled mostly using visual-encounter search.