Saturday, May 1, 2021

Two new SPECIES of damselflies discovered from Western Ghats

Euphaea thosegharensis 
Researchers from TORG (TNHS Odonata Research Group) Kerala, and odonate enthusiasts from Maharashtra have discovered two new species of damselflies from Satara district of Maharashtra in northern Western Ghats. The new damsels commonly called Torrent Darts, are large insects belonging to the genus Euphaea. They have been named  Euphaea thosegharensis and Euphaea pseudodispar, and are endemic to Western Ghats. The research team included Dr. Sriram Bhakare, Pratima Pawar & Sunil Bhoite from Satara and Dr Kalesh Sadasivan & Vinayan Nair from Travancore Nature History Society, Trivandrum. 

So far only three endemic species of Euphaea are known from Western Ghats. Euphaea fraseri  is a very common species in the forested foot hills of Western Ghats, and is found from Kanyakumari to Maharashtra at 100 -1200 m. Euphaea dispar is restricted to North of Palghat gap from South Kanara and  Coorg to Nilgiris from 1066 to 1828m. E. cardinalis is a montane species above 900 m found South of Palghat gap in Anamalais, Palnis and Agasthyamalai Hills. Both new species are restricted to the high elevation streams and riparian patches of Satara district around Thoseghar and Kaas lake in Maharashtra and are thus endemic to the northern Western Ghats, as far as it is known.

Olive Ridley Turtle Hatchlings Released to Sea

Seven species of turtles are found in the warm waters of seas in the temperate-tropical zone. Of these five species make a visit to the Indian coast annually for laying of eggs and rearing. They nest all along the Indian coastline of Bay of Bengal in the east and Arabian sea in the west. Of these Olive Ridley Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) outnumber all others in numbers in visiting the Indian shore. Eastern coast is having larger nesting areas. Gahirmatha and Rishikulya in Odisha are globally recognized massive nesting sites.   

When it comes to the western coast of India, massive nesting sites are not reported. Only few sites are known where egg laying is very sporadic and moderate. In Kerala,  only very few  turtles are making the annual trip for laying of eggs. Neeleswaram beach in Kasaragod, Kozhavippalam in Kozhikkode, Chavakkad beach in Guruvayur in Thrissur, Kuzhippilli and Cherai beaches in Ernakulam, Thottappali beach in Alappuzha, Chiillikkal, Pozhikkara and Mukkam beaches in Kollam and Vizhinjam beach in Thiruvananthapuram are the major landing sites for these turtles in Kerala. As per an established pattern, northern Kerala shores receive the highest number of turtles, while their number decreases as one travels to the south.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

First butterfly to be discovered and described by an all Indian research team from the Western Ghats.

A new taxon of Lycaenid butterfly belonging to the Nacaduba genus has been discovered by researchers from the Western Ghats. This adds a new species to the butterfly fauna of India as well as that of the Western Ghats and Kerala state as well. The common name of the butterfly is suggested as Ramaswami’s Six Lineblue and ‘Ceylon Varayanneeli’. The discovery was done by a team of four researchers, namely, Dr. Kalesh Sadasivan and Baiju. K from Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS) Trivandrum, Rahul Khot from Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay and Ramasamy Naicker from Vanam, Theni. 

         Line blues are small butterflies belonging to the subfamily Lycaenidae with Indo-Australian. Their distribution ranges from India and Sri Lanka to the whole of south-eastern Asia, Australia, and Samoa. They are characterised by hairy eyes, anastomosis of veins 11 and 12 on forewings, male wings

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

‘Punarjani’, conservation project for Olive Ridley Turtles making great strides.

Shri K.B.Sanjayan, Co-ordinator of T.N.H.S
highlighting the importance of protecting turtles
         ‘Punarjani’, a novel project conceived by the Social Forestry wing of the Department of Forests and Wildlife, Kollam, in association with Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS), a Trivandrum-based N.G.O working in the field of nature conservation, was originally launched on January 23, 2020, at Chillakkal beach, Paravur near Kollam. The project envisages protecting Olive Ridley turtles, a reptile that has been placed in the Red Data Book of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Olive Ridley turtles have been laying eggs on the shores of Chillakkal and Pozhikkara beaches on the Kollam coast, notably because these are the only two gaps without a seawall erected as a measure against sea erosion. These turtles freely crawl to the shore in the safety of the nightfall in these places, dig pits in the sand some of which as large as to hold up to 100 of its eggs. In course of three weeks when the eggs hatch, hatchlings are led back to the sea by themselves as if by a rare force of intuition. Parental care is sparsely observed in these varieties of turtles.

Monday, March 22, 2021

House Sparrow Population in the City Shows a Mixed Pattern

Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS), the city-based NGO, striving to protect the environment and create awareness for up-keeping the rich bio-diversity of the southern Western Ghats and its penumbral regions, has been engaged in monitoring the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) population in and around Thiruvananthapuram city, ever since March 20 has come to be observed as World Sparrow Day (WSD) in 2010. This year also, during the run up to the Day, members of the Society scouted the nook and corner of the city, noting down the numbers of the birds. It was heartening to note that there was a marginal increase in the number of sparrows in certain pockets of the city, while the number remained steady in the remaining habitats or has gone down nominally. Sparrow count was taken at all known sparrow hubs like Connemara market, Bheemapalli,  Vettucaud, Vizhinjam etc. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Faunal survey adds new birds and butterflies to Shendurney

Lesser Fish Eagle 

A 4-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. Faunal survey adds 6 new birds and 3 new butterflies to Shendurney. The 171 sq km 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, Odonates, spiders and mammals of the sanctuary. In addition, the teams also listed reptiles, amphibians and ants. The programme started with a meeting at Thenmalai where the participants were briefed about the survey. The meeting was inaugurated by the Wildlife Warden Mr Sajeev Kumar B, Mr Saju M Asst Wildlife Warden delivered the introductory speech and Dr. Kalesh Sadasivan explained the methodology and logistics to the delegates. Around 40 delegates from south India participated in the event, which included experts on various faunal groups from Travancore Nature History Society TNHS, Bangalore Butterfly Club (BBC), and students from various research institutes and colleges.

Friday, January 29, 2021



Martin’s Duskhawker (Anaciaeschna martini)
Martin’s Duskhawker (Anaciaeschna martini)

    Dragonflies & Damselflies belong to the group called Odonates. These insects are prime ecological indicators. Serious study of Odonates of the Western Ghats has gained momentum only recently, to be precise since the early part of the last decade.  Apart from the scientific community, citizen science initiatives are also now on to identify and conserve these little-known fauna of our region. Thus, it was on the Odonates of Western Ghats Facebook group discussion between Dr. Kalesh Sadasivan, an avid naturalist from the Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS), Trivandrum, Kerala and Manoj Sethumadhavan from the Wynter-Blyth Association (WBA), The Nilgiris,  the surprising fact that one species which was described in 1922 had not been sighted in south India ever since has sprung to light.  The last record of the three species was by F.C. Fraser in 1933 from Anamalai Hills and another described in 1958 was sighted in Agasthyamalais and Kakkayam.