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.