The Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot has been poorly explored scientifically to evaluate its herpetofauna (Amphibians and Reptiles). Though herpetofauna has been a subject of interest since the British colonial period by few British officials and scientists, it never received the desired attention. The northeast Indian hills and the Eastern Himalayas are considered to have tremendous diversity of herpetofauna. This is understandable through recent works on herpetofauna on the other side of the Indian border, i.e. Myanmar and south China. Being biogeographically similar, the region has many species to report, which are known from Myanmar and south China. Recent studies by few individual scientists have shown that the knowledge on diversity of this group is too low, as several new species have been described or being described. Further, a number of species of herpetofauna have been reported as 'new record' for the country.
- To determine the diversity of the herpetofauna of the region and mapping their distribution using GIS tools.
- To conduct research on natural history of selected species of conservation concern.
- To solve the taxonomic problems associated with the group using morphological taxonomy as well as advanced tools like molecular taxonomy.
- Evaluate the conservation status of the herpetofauna and propose their conservation and management action plan to managers and policymakers.
- To educate the common people about the role of herpetofauna in the environment and need for their conservation.
- To build the capacity of a new generation of herpetologists to meet the future challenges in herpetology.
- Inventory and Natural History of Amphibians of Orang National Park, Assam.
- Diversity, Distribution and Conservation Status of Herpetofauna of the Kaziranga National Park, Assam. (More...)
- Evaluation of Conservation Status and Distribution of Poorly Known Endemic Amphibians of Northeast India.
- A Preliminary Investigation on the Diversity of Herpetofauna of the Sacred Groves in Khasi Hills, Meghalaya.
Salient results of the Research Conducted in North East India on Herpetofauna
In the first year of study, field surveys covered the lower elevations of the hill range mainly in and around the newly declared Barail Wildlife sanctuary of Assam. A total of 64 species of Herpetofauna comprising of 43 Species of Reptiles and 23 species of Amphibians were recorded. Among Reptiles, 24 species are Snakes, 17 species are Lizards; and 3 species are Turtles. Barail hill range (24º 58´- 25° 50' N & 92° 50' - 92° 52' N) of Northeast India is an important landscape of Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot owing to its bridging position between the Jaintia/Khasi and Manipur Hills of Northeast India. This year we are planning to initiate fresh field work in hitherto un explored mid to higher elevations (1000- 2000 m) of Barail range and continue outreach and awareness activities for long term conservation of Reptiles and Amphibians of Barail hill range.
Turtles and Tortoise Project, Northeast India
Under this project we conducted Turtle status survey at Orang National Park, Manas National Park, Barail Wildlife Sanctuary, Mizoram state and Nongkhellym wildlife Sanctuary of Meghalaya. To continue the Turtle survey work in Arunachal Pradesh we generated an additional financial assistance from CEPF small grant program.
The project at the end is expected to evaluate present status of turtles and tortoises of Northeast India, identify viable population and habitat and propose their conservation and management strategies. More...
One priority of the Turtle project is to make an inventory of the turtle fauna available at the temple ponds of Assam State. A series of Community Temple pond were visited to gather information about turtles. The Nagasankar Pond of Bishwanath Chariali. The temple pond is found to contain Asperedates nigricans, Asperedetes gangeticus, Chitra indica, and Pangsura tentoria. Other ponds visited are Madhav Dev Namghar pond of Koliabor and Aatkheliya Namghar of Golaghat District, sorbhog temple pond at Barpeta. Recently we evaluated the habitat suitability of the largest temple pond of Assam-The Hajo Turtle pond.
- Rhabdophis nuchalis, a rare keelback Snake is reported from higher altitudes of Nagaland state for the first time from India.
- Mictopholis austeniana a monotypic endemic agamid lizard is rediscovered after a gap of 100 years from Dafla hills of Arunacha Pradesh.
- Tropidophorus assamensis, Assamese Water Skink, a northeast endemic water Skink is reported for the first time from Assam state.
- Key life history informations were gathered for rare and regional endemic Skinks (Eutropis quadricarinata) and Meghalaya endemic Dwarf agamid (Oriocalotes palus).
- Natural history information of many poorly known snake species like Rhabdops bicolour, Boiga gokool, Boiga siamensis, Blythia reticulata, Bungurus bungaroides, Oligodon dorsalis, Rhabdophis nuchalis.
Rescue and Rehabilitation of Reptiles
Aaranyake is working closely with the Assam forest department in Rescue and rehabilitation of Reptiles particularly snakes from various parts of Assam. Among the commonly rescued native Snakes are a Python molurus, Ptyas mucosa, Coelognathus radiatus, Lycodon aulicus, Naja kaouthia and Trimersurus albolabris. From the year 2005 a collaborative Python rehabilitation programme is initiated at the Assam state zoo. Besides, the herpetology division is working with zoo authorities in captive care and husbandry of the confiscated as well as native snakes kept at newly constructed snake house.
Awareness and Outreach
The herpetology division enhanced its conservation network involving D.R. Colllege, Kokrajhar Govt.College, Birjhora Mahavidalaya, Cachar College, B. H. College, Majuli Science Society, Kokrajhar Science College, Mizoram University, North eastern Hill University, Madras Crocodile Bank Trust.
Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) Conservation Project
The herpetology division of Aaranyak is collaborating with Madras crocodile bank trust in initiating research project at Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary located at the Tarai region of Uttar Pradesh. Through scientific research (population dynamics, behavioural study, nesting site viability analysis etc) and awareness programmes this project aims to provide a basis for long term conservation of this critically endangered Fish eating Crocodilian. This project will also produce a training film on gharials and research/survey methods to facilitate replication of similar gharial research and conservation programs across gharial range areas.
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