Endemic butterflies among major sightings of Munnar faunal survey

Nilgiri Tiger
Nilgiri Tiger. Photo: Special arrangement

Munnar: A four-day-long faunal survey of Munnar Wildlife Division concluded with interesting findings.

A total of 184 species of birds were documented in four days. The notable species recorded were Painted Spurfowl, Painted Bushquail, Pallid Harrier, Common Buzzard, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Grey Bellied Cuckoo, Black and Orange Flycatcher, White Bellied Sholakkili, Speckled piculet, Yellow Footed Green Pigeon and Yellow Throated Bulbul.

Munnar was rich in butterflies as well with a total of 189 species being recorded. The Western Ghats endemic butterflies like Red Disc bush brown, Palni Sailor, Palni Fritillary, Palni four Ring and Nilgiri Tiger were observed. Grass Jewel, the smallest butterfly in the state, was recorded in Chinnar. The largest Indian butterfly, the Southern birdwing, was also recorded. Other interesting records are Malabar Rose, Baronet, Nilgiri Tit, Red Flash, White Hedgeblue and White-Disc Hedgeblue.

Regarding Odonates, the region was relatively rich with 52 species, the highest number was recorded at Chinnar. The remarkable species recorded were Burmagomphus laidlawii, Aciagrion approximans, Indolestes gracilis and Gomphidia kodugensis. The population buildup of Pantala flavescens, the Global Wanderer dragonfly, was noted in the higher elevation camps on to Tamil Nadu side. The sighting of Protosticta monticola, The Montane Reedtail a very rare and endemic damselfly from Anamudishola National Park was notable.

Palni Fritillary

Besides these, the researchers, documented seven species of cicadas, 25 species of ants, 12 species of frogs, eight species of reptiles and mammals like Tiger, Leopard, Nilgiri Marten, Gaur, and herds of elephants.

Protosticta monticola

"Despite the intensive anthropogenic pressures and invasive species detrimental to native fauna, the higher numbers of indicator invertebrate species in Munnar Wildlife Division signifies the efficacy of conservation activities and protection rendered to wildlife provided by the Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department" said Dr Kalesh, Research Associate, Travancore Nature History Society, who handled the briefing session and methodology.

Black and Orange flycatcher

"Even though the climate was congenial, the untimely heavy rains had affected the population numbers of most early stages of invertebrates including butterflies and odonates, hence a follow-up survey is being contemplated post-monsoon" said Vinod, Wildlife Warden, Munnar Wildlife Division. "We are also planning to come out with a booklet of common fauna of the region for the forest staff and lay public based on the findings of this survey", he added.

Indolestes gracilis

The scientific exercise was jointly conducted by Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS), Trivandrum and Munnar Wildlife Division, Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department. Mathikettan Shola National Park, Pambadumshola National Park, Anamudishola National Park, Kurinjimala Wildlife Sanctuary, Eravikulam National Park and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary were simultaneously surveyed for birds, butterflies, odonates, cicadas and ants using 20 base camps. The area lying between 500–2800m elevation was covered using 22 teams comprising 101 delegates. Besides TNHSA, NGOs like BSB Trichur, TNBS Coimbatore, Green Caps Trichur, Green Roots Alleppy, BBC Bangalore, SEEK Kannur and Institutes like COF Trichur, KVASU Wayanad and Kerala University took part in the survey.

The event was flagged off at Munnar by Vinod S V, Wildlife Warden, Munnar Wildlife Division and a welcome speech was delivered by Job J Neriamparambil, Assistant Wildlife Warden, Eravikulam, Arun K Nair, Assistant Wildlife Warden, Shola National Park and Nithin Lal, Assistant Wildlife Warden Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. 

Red Disc Bushbrown
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