This blog was written by Chris Bednarski, a member of the Houston Zoo’s Herpetology Department. Chris received a Staff Conservation Fund grant from his coworkers at the Houston Zoo to carry out a wildlife-saving project for reptiles and amphibians in the Western Ghats region of India. We will be posting a series of blogs as Chris documents his work overseas.
Chris’s goal is to survey within a section of land purchased by the Tillari Biodiversity Research Trust and document what species are present, as well as discover new species and note their home ranges. These findings will help to strengthen the need to protect this land, and by protecting this land, we save species in the wild!
Tonight we headed into one of our sites that we have surveyed pretty heavily over the last couple years. During the monsoon season, we find many species of frogs along this path – there is a large stone wall covered in geckos and usually a few lizard eating species of snake as well. But the monsoon has passed now and it hasn’t rained here in some time. This is an important time for us to survey because now we get to document what species are active in the drier part of the year. We can see that a lot of the grasses and smaller shrubby plants have started to dry out and turn brown. We noted quite a few leaf eating insects getting their last meals in for the year. One of my favorites is a katydid that looks like it flew 100 mph into a brick wall and wound up with a flat face. During the earlier part of the dry season, we have seen that the bush frogs (Pseudophilautus) are still around in decent numbers but they are not calling for mates – we assume they are fattening up for the cooler weather coming. We encountered several forest lizards (Calotes sp.), both males and females, sleeping soundly on the thin ends of branches. They choose these seemingly uncomfortable limbs for a good reason! If any snake or bird land on the tree they are on, the branch will move and wake them up in enough time that they can hopefully escape. On the large stone wall we found a massive species called a Bombay leaf toed gecko (Hemidactylus prashadi). Over all we had a slower night than usual, but still noted some cool stuff!