Rare Animals of India

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Rare Animals of India is a unique book that presents the biological and ecological accounts of the least known animal species of India in one comprehensive volume. The book gives comprehensive ...
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Endangered and Enigmatic Reptiles of Western Ghats – An Overview

Pp. 35-61 (27)

Sumaithangi R. Ganesh and Sumaithangi R. Chandramouli

Abstract

The Western Ghats Mountains of southwestern India harbours a unique, endemic radiation of biogeographically ancient reptile fauna. This fauna is now facing increasing threat due to several man-made factors such as habitat loss, alteration, wanton killing, killing out of fear and vehicular traffic mediated road-kills. Given that there are some taxonomically cryptic groups such as the shieldtail snakes (Uropeltidae), the day-geckoes (Gekkonidae: Cnemaspis) and such, some reptiles endemic to this region are at the grave risk of becoming extinct even before being taxonomically described and known. To add to this, some enigmatic taxa such as the Hutton’s pitviper and the Beypore skink are “Data Deficient” taxa that are quite rare and have evaded field herpetologists for decades and hence became obscure in scientific literature. Therefore measures needed to be put in place to protect the Western Ghats ecoregion as a whole and also its fragile and poorly-known, reptile fauna.

Keywords:

Herpetology, Western Ghats, endemism, squamates, reptiles, lizards, snakes, rainforests, cloud forests, biogeography, checklist, tropics, mountains, valleys, Palghat gap, Sencottah gap, Goa gap, plains, biogeography, relict species.

Affiliation:

Chennai Snake Park, Rajbhavan post, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India