Monday, June 29, 2009

An uncommon species of snake documented in Chorla Ghats area.

The Chorla Ghats area of the Mhadei Bio region has yielded an addition to the number of ‘Wolf snake’ species found in this region with the documentation of an uncommon species by name of ‘Barred Wolf Snake’ (Lycodon striatus).
A slender bodied snake with a flattened head and a glossy black back inter spread with a series of white bars across its body, which diminishes towards the tail. This species has interesting faint yellow colored mid spots that resemble the shape of diamonds when observed from close and are a key to its field identification along with the characteristic white lip scales that this species possess!
The Barred wolf snake is a shy nocturnal non venomous species of wolf snake with a very mild temperament and is known to hide its head under its own coils when provoked or disturbed, thereby turning itself into a peculiar ball of coils!
Growing up to a length of 43 cms maximum this species is known to display parental care of its eggs and its clutches include anything from 2-4 eggs which are laid in July and August. It is known to feed on geckos and skinks and
Known to inhabit semi dry and fringe forest areas, the Barred Wolf snake has been reported in Goa earlier from the Mollem National Park by the then RFO Mr. Prakash Salelkar a few years ago. This specimen however was recorded from a grass patch near a human settlement in the Chorla Ghats area and was observed to be foraging in search of prey in the night.
Though known to be common in the country, there have been very few records of this species in this region. The documentation of this species in the Chorla Ghats makes the number of wolf snake species found in this region to three, which includes the Common Wolf snake, the Travancore Wolf snake and the Barred Wolf snake. The Chorla Ghats area in particular and the Mhadei Bio Region in general is being increasingly recognized by wildlife researchers as a hotspot for lesser known biodiversity and the documentation of this species has reconfirmed the need to conserve the niche habitats of this region.
Documented at a height of 400 meters above sea level by Nirmal Kulkarni, a herpetologist working in the area under the aegis of the Mhadei Bachao Abhiyaan, the ‘Barred Wolf Snake’ and many other reptilian wonders await appreciation and protection in this region that is threatened by the Mhadei Diversion Project which aims to irreversibly alter large tracts of rich Western Ghats habitats and threaten the very existence of many lesser known species in the process!

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