Saturday, June 18, 2011



Nature’s Nest campsite is located in a working areca nut and organic fruit farm on boundaries of the Bhagvan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary of Goa and is surrounded by typical Western Ghats including mixed moist deciduous, deciduous and semi evergreen forest types. Home to an array of biodiversity, the region has been acknowledged as a Mega Biodiversity hotspot as well as an Important bird Area by international conservation bodies.


Climate- Medium showers with windy weather.

Temperature- 18 degrees Celsius to 22 degrees Celsius.

Humidity- 80 percent and above.


Pick Up and drop for participants will be arranged from Panjim to Panjim for all participants.


Participants will stay in shared accommodation at Nature’s Nest in the picturesque village of Surla near Mollem National Park.

Food will include Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian options.


Nirmal Kulkarni- A qualified field ecologist and herpetologist, Nirmal Kulkarni has to credit the discovery of 2 new species of legless amphibians (caecilians), a host of research papers and an experience of over 15 years in the forests of the Western Ghats of India. He is also a wildlife photographer and specializes in photographing lesser-known fauna. He currently works on pit vipers and amphibians in the Northern Western Ghats of India.


The 1st Mollem Herp Excursion 2011 will include sessions of snakebite protocol, basic taxonomy, opportunistic searches and in situ photography of lesser-known Herpetofauna of the Western Ghats.

Field identification of Herpetofauna, photography tips and natural history will also be a part of the program.

Participants will also get to use field equipment, learn basic observation skills and work alongside qualified herpetologist Nirmal Kulkarni and his team in the field.


The Monsoons offer opportunities for closely observing and photographing Herpetofauna that is uncommon and endemic to the Northern Western Ghats of India.

Our target species that we aim to document include the

1. Banded Ground Gecko (Geckoella albofasciata)

2. Hump Nosed Pit viper. (Hypnale hypnale)

3. Beddome’e keelback snake. (Amphiesma beddomei)

4. Malabar Pit viper. (Trimeresurus malabaricus)

5. Goan Day gecko. (Nemesphis goaensis)

6. Malabar Night frog. (Nyctibatrachus major)

And many other endemic and threatened wonders of the Northern Western Ghats of India.




AGE GROUP- 15 years to 55 years. (Participants have to be physically fit and prepared for rains.)

For details email at OR call Glenda on 09822586918.

Essentials for Mollem Herp Excursion 2011.

1. Fast drying earth colored field clothes.

2. Gumboots or good walking shoes fit for rainy weather.

3. Powerful Torch or Headlight- with extra batteries.

4. Rainwear (Raincoats or Ponchos).

5. Field Note Pad and Pen/pencil.

6. Personal medical kit if any.

7. Back pack for field.

8. Water bottle or container for Field.

9. Sleeping bag or blanket and sheet.

10. Camera.

11. Personal toiletries.


Herpactive is an initiative by Nirmal Kulkarni, herpetologist and wildlife photographer to create awareness and instill appreciation for Herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) of Goa in particular and the country in general.

Herpactive aims to promote the science of field herpetology by conducting walks, surveys, training workshops and field technique sessions for budding herp- enthusiasts as well as serious students of mainstream science.

With education and in situ conservation as its objectives Herpactive seeks to conduct reptile and amphibian treks, photo documentation surveys and dedicated Herpetofauna study expeditions in Goa and as well as in the country.

A key component of the activities of Herpactive will be awareness generation amongst society about Herpetofauna and this will be achieved through programs, discussions and sessions from time to time.

With ethics, education, science and conservation as the combined foundation stones of this initiative, Herpactive aims to propagate the science of field herpetology amongst one and all.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Indian Bull Frog- in eminent danger.

The South West monsoons have swept across the state and pulled a luxuriant green carpet on our wild as well as urban landscapes. Amidst the sprouting of new shoots and the flowering of seasonal herbs are the distinct calls of the frogs that herald the arrival of the monsoons- a season of vibrant life and joy… for most species except the frogs themselves!
This is because this is also a time when every Tom, Dick and Harry would don his rainwear and carry his faithful torch to systematically hunt selective and yet important species of frogs for the platter. Considered as Jumping Chicken, a local delicacy for many Goans, the trend of hunting the Indian Bull frog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus) has now reached appalling proportions.
Across every landscape in the night be it the neighborhood field or plateau, stream or road, one finds groups of youth and old go around catching these important species in their hundreds with the help of powerful torches and lanterns much oblivious of the fact that they are contributing to the local extinction of a key indicator species of amphibian just to satisfy their own taste buds.
The Indian Bull Frog is an enigmatic species that used to be found across the state of Goa and was an integral component of any local ecosystem be it a pond, well or field till the upsurge in poaching of this species about 8 years ago. Being one of the largest of its genus and family, this species can be easily identified by its large size and clear tiger like striped pattern on its body. The coloration varies from pale yellow to deep yellowish brown and some individuals also sport tinges of green along the flanks. The sub adults are greener and breeding males sport a bright chrome yellow color.
Being a slow moving frog, this species is an easy target for predators including small carnivores and birds of prey and is a vital ink in any pond or terrestrial ecosystem. Besides which the Indian Bull frog feeds on a variety of prey itself and this includes various species of insects, rodents and even reptiles like smaller snakes and lizards. There have been records where individuals have preyed upon roosting kingfishers and sunbirds at night too! But the most important prey of the tadpoles of this species is the larvae of mosquitoes which are kept under control where some populations thrive, and are an example of how biological controllers can help prevent diseases and help save lives.
But today the Indian Bull frog is fighting a losing battle in almost all its past habitats in our state due to a variety of reasons including extensive poaching, habitat loss and alteration and usage of pesticide.
Despite a ban on the hunting of Frogs in the state, the so called pastime, sport, trade and consumption continues unabated and is a fact that has been accepted not only by Government officials and wildlifers alike but also known by every neighborhood group of youth who head to selected areas at nightfall for poaching this species. The Goa Forest department ahs resorted to creating awareness and ensuring that at least the protected area network of our sanctuaries is free from Frog hunting- which is quite a task in itself, but outside that, the poachers continue to have field day when it comes to hunting frogs for the platter.
The need to enforce the Ban of hunting is vital and requires attention at two levels. The trade has to be aborted at the supply end where poachers can be apprehended by teams of officials of the Wildlife division and the Goa Police and the demand has to be abolished by raids being conducted by officials on establishment and outlets serving frog meat as a delicacy! Let us be clear that the trade would never end if the demand is not stopped and this can only be addressed by taking strict action including cancellation of establishment licenses, attachment of equipment including of vehicles used for transportation of poached frogs, etc. this would not only send a strong signal to those who tend to defy the law but would also help the depleting populations of the Indian Bull frog to a certain extent.
Besides which we need to understand that the change in land use pattern has reduced vital breeding areas and left little space for this amphibian species to breed and sustain a healthy population, thanks to the rise in haphazard development especially on all our plateau areas in the state. The extensive usage of pesticides has further pushed these crucial indicators of healthy ecosystems to the brink of local extinction as our farmlands and orchards are now repeatedly being abused with inorganic pesticides and fertilizers- which act as a toxin to scores of amphibian species including the Indian Bull frog in the adult and larval stage.
And while as concerned citizens, it is our duty to report Frog hunting to the nearest Forest Department office or Police station, what remains to be seen is how serious are the Government agencies in imposing the Ban of Frog Hunting this year. As the distinct calls of the Indian Bull frog are silenced in yet another locale day after day, the fact that remains to be seen is the period of time when the species would jump into local extinction…never to be seen again.