Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Banded Ground Gecko.

The Banded Ground Gecko (Geckoella albofasciata) is an endemic species of gecko which has been documented from certain areas in the Mahdei Wildlife Sanctuary in North Goa. Earlier records of this species exist from Bhagvan Mahaveer Wildlife sanctuary and Mollem national park in South Goa and Amboli in Maharashtra.

The Mahdei Wildlife sanctuary is known for its diversity of herpetofauna and the Mahdei Bachao Abhiyaan is attempting to prepare a checklist of the same with the help of its members and researchers. This species of the Banded Ground Gecko has been documented by Nirmal Kulkarni during his forays into the wilderness of this rich bio diverse region of the Goan Sahyadris.

The Banded Ground Gecko is ground dwelling terrestrial gecko and has been documented on the leaf litter of the forest floor. Nocturnal in nature, some specimens have been sighted at dusk on earth cuttings and mud crevices in these parts.

While the banded ground gecko is distinguished in the field by its conspicuous yellow broad bands on the back and the heterogeneous pattern of the scales on the body, taxonomic identification of this species is done with the help of scale counts of the body, head and feet.

This species has so far been documented in the Mahdei wildlife sanctuary at altitudes ranging from 550 meters above sea level to 800 meters above sea level in varied habitats including village settlements, cashew and acacia plantations and also dense mixed moist deciduous and semi evergreen forests, the last of which are its actual niche habitats.

Insectivorous in nature in its feeding habits, the Banded Ground Gecko has been observed feeding on nocturnal moths and ants on the forest floor at night and is agile when alerted or alarmed.

The current threats documented for this species include human induced forest fires and alteration of niche habitats in certain areas of its existence.

Belonging to the Genus Geckoella, the closest resembling species of the Banded ground gecko is the Deccan ground gecko which is found in the forests of Bhimashankar Wildlife sanctuary, Phansad Wildlife sanctuary and other forests of Maharashtra.

The documentation of this species in the Mahdei Wildlife sanctuary has once again proved the rich diversity of the region.

It is felt that that there is a lacuna of our knowledge of the lizards of Goa, especially of the forest species and the existing checklists are either incomplete or based on mere observations by laypersons and have not been cataloged in a scientific manner. There is thus a need for a serious attempt to collate data on the same and create awareness of these lesser known marvels of the Goan Sahyadris, many of which like the banded ground gecko go unnoticed as far as the lay persons are concerned.

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