Friday, January 10, 2020

Faunal survey brings cheers to Shendurney

A three-day annual faunal survey of Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary jointly conducted by Kerala Forest Department and Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS), concluded here with interesting finds. The 171 sqkm sanctuary was covered by 10 teams of experts using basecamps in all elevations and habitats. The exercise was a part of the annual faunal assessment which targets census of Butterflies, Birds and Odonates of the sanctuary. In addition, the teams also listed mammals, reptiles, amphibians and ants. The programme started with a meeting at Thenmalai where the participants were briefed about the survey. The meeting was chaired Wildlife Warden Mr Sajeev Kumar B, Asst Wildlife Warden and Mr Sasikumaran Nair AK delivered the introductory speech and the Wildlife Assistant Mr Shiju B

explained the logistics to the delegates. Dr. Kalesh Sadasivan from TNHS introduced the survey methodology to the participants. Around 70 delegates from south India participated in the event, which included experts on various faunal groups from Travancore Nature History Society TNHS, Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Tamilnadu Butterfly Society (TNBS), Bangalore Butterfly Club (BBC), Rajapalayam Butterfly Club and students from various research institutes and colleges

.A total of 187 species of Butterflies, 171 species of birds, 44 species of Odonates and 40 species of ants were recorded. The delegates combed the forests for all the major faunal groups. Kattalapara, Kallar, Rockwood, Umayar Pandimotta, Alwarkuruchi, Idimuzghangan, Rosemala and Darbhakulam were the basecamps selected for the survey.  Amongst butterflies the interesting findings were, the Largest butterfly of India the Southern Birdwing, the smallest one The Oriental Grass Jewel and the Lobed beak- an addition to the butterfly fauna of the sanctuary.  The sanctuary was abode to a lot of endemic butterflies like the Malabar Banded Swallowtail, Travancore Evening brown, Sahyadri Albatross, Banded Cats eye, Blue Nawab, Nilgiri tiger. The rare evergreen butterfly Nilgiri Grass Yellow was sighted in the Rosemala region. Other rarities sighted were the Scarce Shot Silverline, Sahyadri Rosy Oakblue, The Golden Treeflitter and the Tamil Dartlet. The highest number of species was seen in the Rockwood region 117 species followed by Kallar 103 species.

             The whole region was a haven for birds as well, with Umayar having 117 species followed by Kattapalara region with 90 species. The State bird -Great Indian Hornbill Buceros bicornis was sighted in most of the camps.
Lesser Fish Eagle - Anoop Rajamony
The Sri Lanka Bay Owl was recorded for the first time for the sanctuary. The reservoir was home to River Terns, Pratincoles and the rare Lesser fish eagles, which were breeding there. The endemic birds that were recorded were Blandford’s Laughingthrush, Wayanad Laughingthrush, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon and Broad-tailed Grassbird. Other notable records were the Grey-headed Bulbul, Black and Orange flycatcher, White bellied Sholakili.

The delegates also documented the Dragonflies and Damselflies and a total of 44 species were recorded. The remarkable observations are Lestes umbrinus, Lestes elatus, Lyriothemis tricolor and the endemic Euphaea fraserii.

Black and Orange Flycatcher - Dr. Anoop Rajamony
         The participants also recorded mammals like the Travancore flying squirrel, Indian Civet, Brown Mongoose and Dhole. The presence of large mammals like Tigers, Elephants, Leopard, Gaur and Sambar were also observed.

With this survey the total bird list for the sanctuary is at 279 species from the previous 275, the additions are Northern Pintail, Black and Orange Flycatcher, Green Leaf Warbler, Ceylon Bay Owl. Butterflies 286 from 280 species, Odonates 96 species from the previous 92 species, and Ants 41 species. The interesting additions are Lobed Beak Libythea myrrha rama and Broad tailed Royal Creon cleobis cleobis in butterflies. Brachydiplax sobrina, Agriocnemis keralensis, and Caconeura risi were the additions in odonates.

Blandford's laughing Thrush Anopop r
The exercise concluded with the data compilation at Thenmalai on 29th December 2019. The Wildlife Warden explained about the importance of such Citizen Science initiatives where we generate large volumes of data for the sanctuary for its Management plans. He also emphasized the need for follow-up surveys later in the year. Expert birders Jayakumar.K, Ramesh Iyer, Sandeep Das, Dr.Sam Chandran, Anoop Rajamony, Sanjayan KB led the birding camps while the butterfly teams were led by Dr Kalesh S, Baiju K, Pavendhan A, Shaheer Babu and Sharan Venkatesh.

Southern Birdwing - Kalesh S

Small Travancore Flying Squirrel - Bernard VVT
Broad tailed Grassbird - Ramesh MB 

River Tern - AjithKumar
Red Disk Bush Brown

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